{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Agnew - .ll 1 s Source Cullen Er& Agnew R(Eds(2006...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–9. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: .ll. 1 s Source: Cullen, Er, & Agnew, R. (Eds) (2006). Criminologtcal theory: Past to present. New York: Oxford University Press. 19 Pressured Into Crime: General ' Strain Theory Robert Agnew I i E According to Merton ( I 93 8 ) and most subse— quent strain theories, crime results from the inability to achieve monetary success or other positively valued goals through legiti- mate channels. This goal blockage creates ' strain or frustration in the individual, which ‘ ncreases the likelihood of a criminal re- ..ponse. Whether individuals respond to " train‘with crime is said to depend on several actors,- such as the level of social control and ,hether the individual associates with crimi— ers. Evidence for this version of strain l'theory omitted and, partly as a consequence, heory no longer occupies the domi- osition that, it once did (see Agnew, ers and Sellers,-. 2004; Burton and .92)- . ' presents a new, much broader ver- in theory in the following seleca ' 'c'h is adapted fi‘orn his recent book Into Crime: An Overview of Gen— a;111 Theory (2006). In the first part of . leer.“ n, Agnew defines "strains, " and BSI'fha efailure to achieve positively val— only one of several types of strain. h involve the loss of valued posses- d egative or aversive treatment by e es on to distinguish between ob- ’ 7 bjective strains, as well as expe- ularious, and anticipated strains. ' bes the characteristics of those hely to result in crimeu—a criti- lle research suggests that some 201 strains lead to crime while others do not. The second part of the selection examines the rea- sons why certain strains increase the likeli- hood of crime. As Agnew states, strains lead to crime primarily because they increase neg- ' ative emotions, such as anger and frustra— tion, which create pressure for corrective ac— tion. But strains contribute to crime for other reasons as well. The final section describes why some people are more lilcely than others to cope with strains through crime. The research on Agnewfs strain theory is generally promising (for summaries, see Agnew, 2001, 2006a, b). Studies suggest that most of the strains he lists increase the likeli- hood of crime, with certain of these strains being among the most important causes of crime. Further; these strains increase crime ' partly through their effect on negative emo— tions like anger. The research on those factors said to influence the likelihood'that people will respond to strains with crime, however; has produced mixed results. References Agnew, Robert. 2000. rlsources of Criminality: Strain and Subcultural Theories." In Joseph F. Sheley (ed), Criminology: A Contemporary Handbook, 3rd edition, pp. 349—371. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. . ——m. 2001. “Building on the Foundation of Gen“ eral Strain Theory: Specifying the Types of Strain Most Likely to Lead to Crime and De- linquency.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 38: 319661. ‘_ _ _ , ———. 2006a. Pressured Into Crime: An Overview of General Strain Theory. Los 'Angeles: Roxbury Publishing. . . 20061:). "General Strain Theory: Current Status and Directions for Further Research.” In Francis T. Cullen, John Paul Wright, and Kristie R. Blevins (eds), Taking Stock: The Sta- .tus 'of Criminological TheoryrnAdvances in Criminological Theory, Volume 15, pp. 101— 123. New'Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. ' Alcers, Ronald L, and Christine S. Sellers. 2004. Criminological Theories: Introduction and Evaluation. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing. Burton, Velmer 8., Jr. and Francis T. Cullen. 1992. "The Empirical Status of Strain Theory.” Journal of Crime and Justice 15: 1—30. ' - JL e. : Etta , 202 Part V + Anemia/31min Thearies afCrz'me According to general strain theory (GST), people engage in crime because they experi- ence strains or stressors. For example, they are in desperate need of money or'they believe they are being mistreated by their family members. They become upset, expe— riencing a range of negative emotions, in- cluding anger, frustration, and depression. And they may cope with their strains and ' negative emotions through crime. Crime is a way to reduce or escape from suains. For example, individuals engage intheft to ob- tain the money they desperately need or they run away from home to esoape their- abusive parents. Crime is a way for individ— uals to seek revenge against those who have wronged them. For example, individuals as- sault those who have mistreated them. And crime is a way to alleviate the negative emo- 4' tions that result fiom strains. For example, ‘ individuals use illegal drugs to make them— selves feel better. Not all individuals, however, respond to strains with crime. If someone steps on your foot, for example, ybu are probably un— -'likely to respond by punching the person. Some people are more likely than others to cope with strains through crime. Criminal _. coping is more likely when people lack the f ability to cope in a legal manner. For exam- ple, crime is more likely when people do not have the verbal skills to negotiate with those :‘Wl'lO mistreat them or do not have others , they can turn to for help. Criminal coping is _ more likely when the costs of crime are low. - For example, crime is more likely when peo- ple are in environments where the likeli— ' hood Of being sanctioned for crime is low. :- And criminal coping is more likely when : people are disposed to crime. For example, - assault is more likely when people believe that violence is an appropriate response to being treated in a disrespectful manner. I briefly elaborate on these arguments below. First, I define strains and describe the types of strains most likely to lead to crime. Next, I discuss why strains increase the likelihood of crime. Finally, I examine why some pe0ple are more likely than oth- ers to respond to strains with crime. - bers) would dislike a range of events a Wat Are Strains? Strains refer to events or conditions that are disliked by the individual. There are three major types of strains. Individuals ‘ may lose something they value (lose some- thing good)- Perhaps their money or prop- erty is stolen, a close friend or family mem— ber dies, or a romantic partner breaks up with them. Individuals may be treated in an aversive or negative manner by others (re- ceive something bad). Perhaps they are sex- ually 0r physically abused by a family mem- ber, their peers insult or ridicule them, or their employer treats them in a disrespect. . ful manner. And individuals may be unable to achieve their goals (fail to get something they want). Perhaps they have less money, status, or autonomy than they want. Objective and subjective strains. Some events and conditions are disliked by most people or at least by most people in a given group. For example, most people dislike being physically assaulted or deprived of adequate food and shelter. And it has been argued that most males dislike having their masculine status called into question (Mes; serschrnidt 1993). I refer to these events and? conditions as objective strains, becaus they are generally disliked. It is possible tat determine the objective strains for a by interviewing a carefully selected sampltfll of group members or people familiar the group being examined. We can ask thes'eé people how much they (or the group rne ‘r conditions (see Turner and Wheaten 199 It is important to keep in mind, howevegg a that people sometimes differ in their subj tive evaluation of the same events and c' ditions—even those events and condth classified as objective strains. So a gird“ jective strain, like a death in the famillt‘m be strongly disliked by one person but ._ _ mildly disliked by another. This is be? the subjective evaluation of 013' strains is influenced by a range of f i9 including peoples’ personality traits go, and values, and prior experiences. Whfial g (1990), for example, found that thde some variation in how people evi. their divorce. Among other thingsi'th Chapter 19 + Prermmilnro Crime: General Strain Theory 203 ity of their prior marriage strongly influ- enced their evaluation, with people in bad marriages evaluating their divorce in posi- tive terms. I therefore make a distinction between objective and subjective strains. , While an objective strain refers to an event or condition that is disliked by most people or most people in a given group, a subjec— tive strain refers to an event or condition that is disliked by the particular person or persons being examined (see Agnew 2001'). As just suggested, there is only partial over» lap between objective and subjective strains. Most of the research on strain theory fo— cuses on objective strains. ReSearchers ask respondents whether they have experienced events and conditions that are assumed to be disliked. For example, they ask respon- dents whether they have received failing grades at school. No attempt is made to measure the respondents’ subjective evalua-V tion of these events and conditions (al- though see Agnew and White 1992; Sharp et al. 20019. This may cause researchers to un- derestimate the effect of strains on crime, because objective strains are not always dis~ liked by the “individuals being examined. Some people, for example, may not be par- ticularly bothered by the fact that they have received failing grades. It is therefore desir- able for criminologists to measure both the ' individuals exposure to objective strains and the individuals subjective evaluation fthese strains (e. g., ask individuals whether ey have received failing grades and, if so, ,Ow-much they dislike such grades). Experienced, vicarious, and antici- Lfltad strains. GST focuses on the individ— al-lx'tpersonal experiences with strains; that (lidithe individual personally experience fed events or conditiOns. For example, I _ Cl by others around the individual, BC allBtclose others like family members individuals family members or friends physically assaulted. Vicarious strains can also upset the individual and lead to crimi- nal coping. Agnew (2002), for example, found that individuals were more likely to ' engage in crime if they reported that their family members and friends had been the victims of serious assaults (also see Eitle and Turner 2002; Maxwell 2001; Mullins et al. 2004). This held true even after Agnew took account of other factors, like the indi— vidual’s own victimization experiences and prior criminal history. Vicarious strains may have increased the likelihood of crime for several reasons. For example, perhaps individuals were seeking revenge against those who had victimized their family and friends. Or perhaps individuals were seek- ing to prevent the perpetrators fiom caus- ing further harm. Vicarious strains are most likely to cause crime when they are serious, involve someone that the individual cares about and has assumed responsibility for protecting, involve unjust treatment, and pose a threat to others (see Agnew 2002 for a fuller discussion). It is also sometimes important to con— sider anticipated experiences with strains. Anticipated strains refer to the individuals expectation that his or her current strains will continue into the future or that new' strains will be experienced. For example, in- dividuals may anticipate that they will be the victims of physical assault. Like vicari- ous strains, anticipated strains may upset . individuals and lead to criminal coping. In— dividuals may. engage in crime to prevent anticipated strains from occurring, to seek revenge against those who might inflict such strains, or to alleviate negative emo- tions. To illustrate, many adolescents, par- ticularly in high-crime communities, antici— pate that they-will be the victims of violence. They often (illegally) carry weapons as- a re— sult and they may even engage in violence against others in an effort to reduce the like— lihOod that they will be victimized. In this area, Anderson (1999) argues that the young men in very poon'high—crime com— munities often try to reduce the likelihood they will be victimized by adopting a tough demeanor and responding to even minor 204 PartV + Anemia/Strain Them-is: afCrime_ shows of disrespect with violence. Antici- pated strains are most likely to result in crime when individuals believe that they. have a high probability of occurring in the near future, they will be serious in nature, andthey will involve unjust treatment by others (see Agnew 2002). 'What Are the Characteristics of Those Types of Strains Most Likely to - Cause Crime? Not all strains result in crime. In fact, the experience of some strains may reduce the likelihood of crime. This is the case, for ex— ample, with parental discipline that is con- sistent and fair. Juveniles may not like such discipline, but much data suggest that it re— duces the likelihood of crime (Agnew 2005). Strains are most likely to cause crime when they: 1) are seen as high in magnitude, 2) are seen as unjust, 3) are associated with low social control, and 4) create some pres- sure or incentive to engage in criminal cop— ing. Strains with these characteristics are more likely to elicit strong negative emo~ tions, reduce the ability to engage in legal coping, reduce the perceived costs of crime, and create a disposition for crime. The strain is seen as high in magnitude. Imagine that you are chatting with a group ofacqua' tances and someone reacts to a remark you make by stating "you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Now imagine the same. situation, but this time someone reacts to your remark by stating “you’re an asshole" and then shoving you. Both reactions are likely to upset you, but I think most people would agree that the sec- ond reaction is more likely to lead to crime. Part of the reason for this is that the second reaction is more severe than the first. Genr _ orally speaking, strains that are seen as more severe or higher in magnitude are more likely to result in crime. The severity of the strain refers to the extent to which the .strain is negatively evaluated; that is, the ex— tent to which it is disliked and viewed as having a negative impact on one’s life. Among other things, severe strains are more likely to elicit strong negative emotions, which create pressure for corrective action, - chance. That is why we are less upset l3 and they are more difficult to cope with in a legal manner (e.g., it is more difficult to la. gally cope with a large rather than a small ' need for money). A strain is more likely to be seen as'severe if: a) it is high in degree or sizc (e.g., a large versus a small financial loss); b) it is fre- quent, recent, of long duration, and ex- pected to continue in the future; and c) it threatens the core goals, needs, values, ac- tivities, andfor identities of the individual (e.g., does the strain threaten a core iden- tity, perhaps one’s masculine identity, or a secondary identity, perhaps one’s identity as a good chess player). 3 . The strain is seenas unjust. Imagine you are walking down the street. Someone accidentally trips on a crack in the sidewalk, bumps into you, and knocks you to the ground. Now imagine that you are walldng down the street and someone deliberately shoves you aside, knocking yen to the ground. Both incidents qualify as strains; being knocked to the ground is disliked by most people. But-I think most people would agree that the second incident is more likely to result in crime. Even though both inci- dents involve the same amount of physical harm, the behavior in the Second incident is more likely to be seen as unjust. Unjust- strains are more likely to lead to crime for several reasons; most notably the fact that they make individuals more angry. A strain is more likely to be seen as unjust when it involves the voluntary and inten- tional violatiOn of a relevant justice norm or rule. Most strains involve a perpetrator who does something to a victim. We are more likely to view the perpetrator’s behavior-Gas unjust if the perpetrator freely choses’ib treat the victim in a way that he or she kn would probably be disliked (the "volun and intentional” part). We are less likel view the behavior as unjust if~it is the re of such things as reasonable 3.0016161]. accidental bump than by a deliberate sh: even though both may cause the same P ical harm. We are also less likely to strains as unjust if they are the result Oi own behavior (e.g., we injure OUISE? while behaving in a reckless manna? ll a 3A A. Chapter 19 + Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory 205 natural forces (e.g., our home suffers dam- age during a storm). Unjust behavior, however, involves more than a voluntary and intentional effort to harm someone. For example, parents vol— untarily and intentionally punish their chil— dren on a regular basis, but we usually do not view their behavior as unjust. In order for voluntary and intentional behaviors to be seen as unjust, they must also violate a relevant justice rule. In particular, research- ers have discovered that most people em— ploy certain rules to determine whether a particular behavior is just or unjust (see Agnew 2001, for a fuller discussion). For ex— ample, the voluntary and intentional inflic- tion of strain is more likely to be seen as un- just when victims believe that the strain they have eXperienced is undeserved and not in the service of some greater good (e.g., God or country). 1113 strain is associated with low social control. Consider the following two strains. First, someone is unemployed for a long pe— riod of time: Second, a well—paid lawyer has to work long hours on a regular basis, often ‘ performing difficult and complex tasks. I ' 'nkmost peoplé would agree that the first ,5: ‘ 111 is more likely to result in crime. This example highlights a third factor affecting : eglikelihood that strains will lead to crime. Strains are more likely to lead to crime they are associated with low social " 1. re are several types of social control, ach'referring to a factor or set of fac— at restrains the individual from There is direct control, which refers jib tli extent to which others set rules that _j _ crime, monitor the individuals be— and consistently sanction the indi- _, for rule violations. There is the indi- ual'szemotional bond or attachment to "anal others, such as family mem- estinent in conventional institutions, chool and work. It is easier to en- cr-ime when emotional bonds and nts are weak, since there is less to through crime. And there is the individ- IMilie'fs regarding crime. It is easier to it an teachers. There is the individual’s ‘ engage in crime when one does not believe that it is wrong to do so. Certain strains are associated with low levels of social control. For example, this is the case with parental rejection. Children who are rejected by their parents probably have little emotional bond to them and are probably subject to little direct control by them. To give another example, those strains involving unemployment and work in the secondary labor market (“bad jobs”) are associated with a low investment in con- ventional institutions. Strains associated with low social control are more likely to re- sult in crime because they reduce the costs of crime, among other things. ' I Ike strain creates some pressure or in- centive for criminal coping. A final factor affecting the likelihood that a strain will lead to crime is the extent to which the strain creates some incentive or pressure to engage in criminal coping. Certain strains are more easily resolved through crime and! or less easily resolved through legal chan- nels than other strains (see Brezina 2000). As a consequence, individuals have more in- . centive to cope with these strains through crime. For example, that type of strain in— volving a desperate need for money is more easily resolved through crime than is that type involving the inability to achieve edu- cational success. It is much easier to get money through crime than it...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}