General Strain Theory
University of North Texas at Dallas
There are many theories to choose from and I decided to choose and focus on general strain theory. I chose general strain theory because I believe this particular theory applies to a lot of people across the United States, especially those people who are in the middle class and below. First I am going to explain what general strain theory is and what Agnew finds most important about it. Secondly, what micro level components are used in this theory and how they affect people. Lastly, I am going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of general strain theory. Not everyone falls victim to general strain theory because not everyone is in the same social and economical predicament. A lot of people are unfortunate to go through these strains/stressors of life and it all comes down to how one chooses to deal with the hand life dealt them.
Dr. Robert Agnew (2013) took Robert Merton’s classical strain theory one-step further, as in; he expanded the boundaries of the theory. General strain theory focuses on a lot more variables other than not being able to be successful because of a blockage caused by society. Agnew talks in depth of the different levels of strain, what can be defined as strain, and why people who are affected by strain engage in crime (p.203). Robert Merton’s main focus was that individual’s monetary successes is blocked and therefore have to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals. Robert Agnew argues that this does not cause crime; his point of view was that people were not able to escape from these negative conditions and in result, engage in crime (p. 203). Agnew was more interested on how people coped with crime...
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... way and was started by people like Durkheim and Merton and many others and eventually was the inspiration for Robert Agnew’s research. Robert Agnew took what was already there and added different variables to what is now know as general strain theory. It is interesting to see what characteristics an individual must have in order to resort to criminal coping. There are many people out there that are unaware of the research that is being done to answer the question, why do people commit crime? This research will continue to grow and more theories will continue to emerge in future years to come.
Agnew, R. (2012). Reflection on “A Revised Strain Theory of Delinquency”. Social
Forces, 91(1), 33-38
Cullen, F., & Agnew, R. (n.d.). Criminological theory: Past to present, essential readings (Fifth ed.).
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