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Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST)

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on 23 May 2014

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Transcript of Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST)

• failure to achieve positively valued goals

There are three major types of strain according to general strain theory:
Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST)
Money (or lack of) causes strain/stress when it is not available through legitimate means
Masculine status especially important
Differs culturally, but in U.S. some resort to crime to achieve masculine status
Cultural expects everyone to achieve certain goals
If no access to achieving those goals, strain and frustration (and potentially crime) ensue
Rests on the outcome of the indivual's behavior
Strain results if their actual achievements do not measure up to their own expectations
Anger may cause desire for revenge
Crime = revenge against those who have wronged them
Revenge may alleviate anger or other negative emotions
Links Between Strain and Crime
Other coping strategies:
Money/economic success (like Merton)
Status and Respect
3 types of positively valued goals
Disjunction between aspirations and expectations
Disjunction between expectations and actual achievements
Outcome seems unjust or unfair
All 3 types of strain are thought to increase the likelihood of experiencing negative emotions in proportion to the
frequency, and
duration of the stress
The above 3 goals turn into strain when faced with certain "disjunctions" in life
What about those who do not resort to crime?
Disjunction between aspirations and expectations
Disjunction between expectations and actual achievements
Status and Respect
Autonomy, the power over oneself
Strain resulting from lack of autonomy disproportionately affects adolescents and poor because of lower position in society
May resort to crime against those who have denied the individual autonomy
Outcome seems unjust or unfair
Have some idea of a fair outcome/resolution based on social comparisons
When outcome varies from sense of fairness, people get angry
Evaluation of GST
Could be applicable to all social classes
Several studies find strain-induced anger has a significant effect on deviance (Broidy 2001)
Mixed results examining the relationship between strain and negative emotion
"When people are treated badly, they get upset and engage in crime" (Agnew 2000)
• the loss of positively valued stimuli
• the presentation/addition of negative stimuli
Full transcript