Introduction: Criminology is a scientific approach to the study of crime and why it occurs. Criminologists examine this both on the individual and on the societal level. Meaning, why do individuals commit crime, and how society reacts to those crimes. As we look at the root causes of crime, we begin to notice certain aspects of people’s lives that causes them to offend - like a poor social standing, or perhaps an individual’s peer group who may allow or even support negative influences. We can also try to understand why some individuals choose NOT to offend and live pro-social lives despite negative external influences. These concepts and ideas are known as crime theories. There are many and they are wide-ranging. Summary of two Theories: …show more content…
Robert Merton explains that because there is such a large emphasis on financial success and achieving the “American Dream”, these societies that suffer from strain are put under enormous pressures to obtain these goals. The only issue is that the lower class does not always have the means of obtaining that success. This problem instills frustration and anger into people and so one response is to turn to crime as an alternate pathway to achieving success. For example, an individual who has been unemployed for a long period of time might commit robbery or theft in need of fast money to pay bills or put food on the table. Therefor we can conclude that certain stressors can increase the likely hood into social behavior and therefor decrease the fear of the punishments of those actions. Robert Agnew proposes another aspect of strain known as General Strain Theory. This theory suggest that other sources of strain exist besides financial stressors. Strain may also result from other aspects of life such as loss of a significant other or other traumatic or life altering events. It’s these events that trigger reactions in some individuals who may have displayed a history of pro-social behavior to consider criminal activity as an outlet from the pressures of these external …show more content…
We can only tell the amount of offenders that are not deterred because of the amount of criminals caught by the police. There is no way to know the amount of people who are actually deterred from crime because they never end up offending. So we can assume that most people refrain from offending because of deterrence, but we cannot exclude other factors which keep people away from crime. Moral values is one example; individualized personality traits which most people pick up from their parents or develop on their own can have a huge impact on whether or not people choose to offend. Strain theory may involve some assumptions of demographics about those offending that might not be true. During my research, I noted the theory refers to primarily the economically challenged. In my opinion, this theory could apply just as easily to the wealthy to commit some white-collar crime. So I conclude that strain can and will exist everywhere, wherever there are people enduring hardships there will be those who choose criminal activity as a method to attain goals otherwise achieved through legitimate
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The proposal of Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory in explaining criminal deviance is based on three concepts. The first concept is that people are not naturally inclined to commit crimes. Rather, their transition towards deviant behavior begins when they experience strain. The second concept is that once strain is present, depending on the severity of the stain, a person becomes victim to their own negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and frustration. Their response to those negative emotions may expedite their transition. The third concept looks at a person’s ability to cope with the strain and negative emotions. If a person has poor coping abilities they tend to become overwhelmed by the strain and the negative emotions they are feeling as a result of strain. Poor coping abilities may cause someone to commit crime in hopes of rectifying their situation. (Agnew, 2011)
Robert Agnew developed general strain theory (GST) in 1992 based off of Robert King Merton’s strain theory. The theory explains that people are pressured into crime. Agnew argues there are multiple sources of strain, which include but are not limited to; objective and subjective strains, experienced, vicarious, and anticipated strains. He also discusses which strains are most likely to lead to crime and why. Agnew believes people engage in crime because they experience strains or stressors and that crime is a type of corrective action to cope with, reduce, or escape their strains. Crime is more likely when the individual lacks ability to cope in a legal manner. Strain results from negative relations with others
Agnew stated general strain theory in a very clear way, which caused his outlook to be subjected to multiple empirical tests from its beginning to the present time. Several conclusions have emerged from the research of his perspective’s empirical support. There is consistent empirical evidence that exposure to strain increases the probability of criminal offending. The issue is that the strains that can be faced in life are everlasting. According to Agnew the studies that may show that strain-inducing situations are linked to crime, but they do not make sense of all the findings and tell us which strains are most criminogenic. Agnew understood this challenge and addressed it by identifying the strains that are most likely to lead to crime
General Strain Theory means that people who experience strain or stress become distressed or upset which may lead them to commit a crime in order to cope. The key element in the general strain theory is an emotion which could motivate a person to commit a crime. One example that could prove this theory as a true factor about how someone’s emotion could affect the outcome of committing a crime, is by losing their source of income. If a person once had a great job where they were able to earn a lot of money but later was let go due to job cuts, that person stress of losing that high-end income could push them over the edge and they do the unthinkable such as shooting the boss who let them go. The three main sources of General Strain Theory are
This strain then causes negative feelings, especially anger towards those they blame for the circumstances, which leads the individual to crime and delinquency (Hoffman, 2011). Strain theory can also be used to explain delinquency for various groups, such as why males are more delinquent than females, as they respond to situations in different ways (Agnew, 2012). Agnew’s strain theory also recommends policy implications to minimize the occurrence of delinquency, mainly by minimizing strain individuals face (Hoffman, 2011). It is, however, a fairly new theory and there lacks empirical evidence that supports or rejects it and does not take into consideration non-social forms of strain (Peck, 2011). It is also a very broad theory, and while it is one of the great advantages of the theory, it also means that it must be broken down, examined and tested piece by piece (Peck,
Robert Agnew’s GST argues that any person on any social class can commit criminal behavior after experiencing the negative effects of strain (Anderson,). Therefore, strain can be caused by different factors that are not solely economic. Additionally, Agnew explains that crime is a result of negative states resulting from anger, frustration, and adverse emotions that lead to destructive social relationships. Agnew adds that anger is an important factor when deciding to commit because it can inspire the individual’s desire for
Drawing upon Merton’s strain theory and Sutherland and Cressey’s theory of differential association, I argue that the combination of these two theories offer a wholesome explanation of why crime happens. Robert Merton’s strain theory (1938) explains the role of social structure in generating anomie (a sense of lawlessness and alienation) in individuals. The theory claims that there are legitimate means of achievement in our quest for success or celebrated goals, which are imposed by social institutions, and the blocking of these pathways leads to the creation of strain. Merton claims that when in strain, people commonly react through conformity, although instances of innovation, ritualism, and retreatism also occur (pp.141). For example, if
Ideally, the theory bases its argument on the economical disadvantages social classes in a society claiming that lower class neighborhoods cause stress, frustration, and disorganization that motivates individuals to commit crimes. For instance, children raised in lower class families face hardships, which in return, creates strains. In the event they succumb to the strains, any slight opportunity to commit a crime, like stealing, is quickly utilized. In addition, children raised in upper class neighborhoods are prone to criminal offenses that are associated with influence. Research by Einstadter, Werner & Stuart (2006) says that criminal offenses, such as drug abuse, are more common to people raised in wealthy families. Therefore, the social backgrounds in which a person is brought up influences the type of criminal acts they engage in. Moreover, social structure influences individuals to commit some crimes and not others. As put forward by Robert Marton, the theory views crime as way of responding to existing conditions that limit one’s ability to achieve economic success in
Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38(4), 319-361. doi: 10.1177/0022427801038004001
Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying thetypes of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency.Journal of Researchin Crime and Delinquency,38, 319-361.
General Strain Theory was discussed by Robert Agnew, and first published in 1992. According to General Strain Theory individuals engage in crime because of strains or stressors which produce anger and anxiety (Agnew, 1992). Crimes become the outlet that the individual uses to cope with or remedy the strains or stressors. Agnew states that there are three different types of deviance producing strains.
Strain theory occurs when people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to reach socially accepted goals by legal means. This strain leads to the use of socially deviant ways to attain their own goals. This theory has four modes of adaption, the final one being rebellion. This mode reject societies cultural goals and institutionalized means and replaces existing goals and means with their own. If society emphasizes something or there is an economic recession, it is expected to have an increase in criminal organizations that produce money illegally (Henslin 2012). Essentially it breaks down to the less opportunities available in society, the more likely crime is going to increase. In regards to human trafficking, our society emphasizes the need for money to survive but there are limited job opportunities. Since that type of organization is a profitable one, it would be a means for a person to reject socially acceptable ways and diverge towards criminal
Merton that sees crime as a function of the conflict between people’s goals and the means available to obtain them. (Siegel, L. J., 2016). The theory states that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals though they lack the means, this leads to strain which may lead the individuals to commit crimes. (Merton, Robert (1938). "Social Structure and Anomie". American Sociological Review. 3 (5): 672–682.) It is also believed that these strains can also lead to negative emotions like anger and frustration. These emotions cause pressure for the individual which can result in crime. Some individuals may use crime to reduce or escape from the strain or to lessen negative emotions. One example might be if an individual is unemployed for a long time, they may turn to crime such as theft or drug dealing for a source of income. They may also seek revenge from the person or company who fired them. There are several versions of strain theory and why some are most likely to lead to crime, why others increase crime and some strained individuals don’t turn to crime at
In the 1800s and early 1900s Sociological Theories were introduced in crime causation. The Social Ecology Theory, Anomie Theory, and Subcultural Theory, are a huge factor in the study of crime causation. While taking a sociological approach, they discovered that “the structure of prevailing social arrangements, the interaction between individuals and groups, and the social environment” (Schmalleger 89) are the main causes of criminal behavior. Prospectively speaking, the majority of sociological viewpoints of crime are very unique from each other. Though the spectrum of this topic is wide, they all originate on a few essential hypotheses.