The Strain Theory

Published: 2021-07-05 08:10:05
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The Strain Theory There are many theories to crime causations one in particular caught my attention, one that I believe is the most accurate. The strain theory was developed in 1938 by Robert Merton and then updated by Robert Agnew in 1985. Agnew’s general strain theory is based on the general idea that “when people get treated badly the might get upset and engage in crime”. The general strain theory identifies the ways of measuring strain, the different types of strain, and the link between strain and crime.
Agnew came up with two different ways to measure strain in an individual’s life. The first way is the subjective approach, where the researcher directly asks the “individual whether they dislike how they are being treated”. The second approach is the objective view, where the researcher asks individuals about pre-determined causes of strain. The causes of strain are things that the researcher identifies as treatment that a member of the group being studied would dislike.
The objective approach is most commonly used way to measure strain and it usually involves relationships with friends, families, and the community. But when doing research one must consider that individuals have different reactions to certain types of strain. To get an effective measure of strain the researcher must first make a list of all the negative circumstances that can result in strain. The second thing to be considered is the magnitude, duration, and clustering of negative events.
There are three major types of strain. The first is the failure to achieve positively valued goals, the second is the loss of positive stimuli, and the third is the presentation of negative stimuli. Agnew noted that the three positively valued goals members of society strive for are 1) money, it is a cause for strain when it is not available through legitimate means and delinquents desire to gain large amounts of money. 2) status and respect, an individual strives to prove their masculinity by using criminal behavior. ) Last is autonomy, the power over oneself, this affects mainly adolescents and the lower class because of their position in society. The loss of positive stimuli can cause stress when an individual experiences a family death or a broken relationship with a friend or a romantic partner or it can be a result of the theft of a valued object. This could lead an individual to delinquency by the person trying to prevent the loss, retrieve what was lost, or to seek revenge on those who removed the positive stimuli.
The presentation of negative stimuli can be through child abuse, neglect, neighborhood problems, and homelessness. The individuals who usually experience these negative events are adolescents with pain avoidance behaviors and juveniles with the inability to legally avoid noxious stimuli. The link between strain and crime are the criminal’s feelings. Strain can be caused by negative feelings an individual has for example defeat, despair, and fear but the feeling most connected to crime is anger.
Individuals become angry when they blame their negative circumstances and relationships on others. Anger incites a person to action, lower inhibitions, and creates a desire for revenge. Anger and frustration enables an individual to justify crime. Also individuals who repetitively experience strain may be more likely to commit crime. The strain theory proposes that an increase in strain would lead to an increase in anger, which may then lead to an increase in crime. Robert Agnew’s general strain theory has come back in some crime causation explanations.
Out of all theories that I researched, the strain theory made the most sense to me in explaining the cause of an individual to committing crime. The general idea is that when a person experiences negative stimuli they are most likely to engage in crime. I understand that individuals do get mad and seek revenge on those who brought them negativity or when a person is stressed over money they tend to engage in criminal behaviors. This theory seems to be the realest to me because I know people everywhere, everyday experience these events.

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