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General Strain Theory ( GST ) , introduced by sociologist Robert Agnew in 1992 ( Cernkovich, Giordano, Rudolph, 2000 ) , focuses on the single effects of strain, and how it is that that strain so leads a individual towards delinquency and offense.

This essay looks at the background of strain theory, its account of offense and aberrance, evaluates the theory and ends with the author ‘s sentiment of general strain theory.

General Strain Theory is more individualized than the first Anomie and Strain theory that was introduced by Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton. Agnew, Brezina, Wright, & A ; Cullen ( 2002 ) suggest that it is personality traits within the person that consequence in their reaction to strive, and it is so these certain traits that end up in the single turning towards delinquency and offense as a manner to alleviate the tenseness that the strain has brought into their life. The major traits associated with single strain are those traits of restraint and negative emotionalism ( Agnew et al. , 2002 ) , which when ‘provoked ‘ by strain, take the single to such emotions as choler and to delinquency and offense to alleviate this choler. Besides known as negative affect provinces ( Seigel, 2003 ) , these inauspicious emotions of choler and defeat can be controlled by many persons, but coupled with those traits of low restraint and high negative emotionalism in an person, other persons have problem with commanding these negative affect provinces and delinquency is frequently the consequence when strain is added to their lives.

General strain theory does make the ‘good title ‘ per Se of explicating both offense and aberrance as a theory, as most persons who react negatively to strive make so chiefly in a delinquent manner, but non ever in a condemnable manner. If the reaction is in a condemnable manner though, it is merely to the extent of income-generating criminalism, and seldom consequences in offenses of a hurtful nature ( Cernkovich, et al. , 2000 ) . Many research workers have found that the chief type of strain that consequences in offense occurring is the strain of an person ‘s economic state of affairs ( Cernkovich et al. , 2000 ) , and therefore most offense and delinquency to alleviate this strain tenseness is ways in which income can be obtained. While some persons merely go every bit far as delinquency ( such as moving out against person ) to alleviate their ‘tension ‘ from strain force per unit areas, others do travel the excess distance and perpetrate a offense, such as robbing another person. The difference between perpetrating a delinquent act and perpetrating a condemnable act is explained by general strain theory as a direct consequence of the degree of restraint and negative emotionalism that single possesses ( Agnew et al. , 2002 ) .

In support of general strain theory, Agnew et Al. ( 2002 ) looked at 2300 kids between the ages of 7 and 11 in 1976, and once more five old ages subsequently in 1981, mensurating their single strains ( both at place and at school ) , and comparing it with their degree of restraint and negative emotionalism. Teacher and parental study studies for each kid were besides used at each clip period. Agnew et Al. ( 2002 ) believed that it was chiefly juveniles who reacted negatively to strive, and therefore the research workers wanted to prove whether the kids with low restraint and high negative emotionalism in 1976 were more likely in 1981 to move reprehensively and/or delinquently, if their degrees of restraint and negative emotionalism were the same or worse as old. In response to their studies, Agnew et Al. did happen that those juveniles with low restraint and high negative emotionalism in 1981 were more likely to move in a delinquent or condemnable mode as a reaction to parental and educational strain that occurred in their lives.

Cernkovich et Al. ( 2000 ) took a different attack in proving general strain theory, alternatively looking at race and the alleged ‘American Dream ‘ and the consequence that these factors had on certain persons. Two samples were used in the design: the first a sample of persons populating in private families, and the 2nd a sample of antecedently institutionalised wrongdoers. As in the old survey by Agnew et Al. ( 2002 ) , the samples were interviewed as striplings in 1982 and so once more in 1992 ( family sample ) and 1995 ( institutionalized sample ) ( Cernkovich et al. , 2000 ) . When conceptualised in calling and mercenary footings, the Afro-american committedness to the American dream was strong, although high degrees of unemployment and low incomes were still common happenings. While missing entree to money and mercenary objects, the importance of the American dream to many African americans was still rather high, ensuing in the happening of delinquency and criminalism in an attempt to better their opportunities of accomplishing the American dream ( Cernkovich et al. , 2000 ) .

Therefore it would look that racial factors do play a function in general strain theory, in add-on to those trait factors of low restraint and high negative emotionalism. Either manner it is looked at, general strain theory explains how it is that delinquency and criminalism can both happen. In one instance it is because of the extent of traits within an person, in another instance it is based on the importance one race holds towards philistinism and position quo.

Evaluation

While it is true that general strain theory does make the occupation of explicating both offense and aberrance, at the same clip general strain theory does include some defects as a criminology theory overall.

General strain theory has done a occupation of explicating why it is that those races other than Caucasic ( or White ) do perpetrate offense and delinquent Acts of the Apostless, but so why is it that Caucasians commit many of the delinquent and condemnable Acts of the Apostless in the universe? General strain theory has no existent account for this, other than the fact that they might possess the traits of low restraint and negative emotionalism. But what about those people who commit offenses and delinquent Acts of the Apostless and do non possess these traits? Why is it so that they are making what they are making? General strain theory has no account for this happening. Agnew et Al. ( 2002 ) stated that it was chiefly juveniles who possessed the traits of low restraint and negative emotionalism, and therefore were the 1s to respond negatively to strive, but what about those who are non juveniles? Obviously these persons must possess these traits every bit good, but what if they do non? What is it so that has made them perpetrate the act that they did? Seigel ( 2003 ) writes that negative affectional provinces such as choler and defeat consequence in condemnable and delinquent Acts of the Apostless, but what about those sociopaths and psychopaths who do non ‘have ‘ these feelings at the clip of their offense, or those persons who commit offense ‘just because ‘ and non as a consequence of a negative province? General strain theory, while on the micro degree, may be excessively much on the micro degree, for it is non merely those single issues, but the larger macro social issues as good that interact for an person to perpetrate a delinquent or condemnable act.

Another ‘issue ‘ that general strain theory does non take into history, when explicating offense and aberrance, is the offenses committed by those who have already achieved the ‘American Dream ‘ . With their economic state of affairs already high, why is it that some people choose to put on the line it all for a few more dollars? General strain theory does non explicate why many of the alleged ‘white-collar offenses ‘ occur. And in maintaining with the American dream, what about those persons who do non adhere to the American dream? Why is it that people in small small towns halfway around the universe commit offenses? They have no ground to adhere to the ‘American dream ‘ of the Western universe, so what is their ground for perpetrating offense? It can non be a racial issue, for they are the lone race that is about in their portion of the universe, wherever that may be. And low restraint and high negative emotionalism are non issues to them as traits, so why is it so that they have committed their offense? General strain theory has no account.

Harmonizing to general strain theory, those who commit offense should be colored, hapless, with low restraint and high negative emotionalism. So why it is that poorer people are non perpetrating offense? What about those who are ‘okay ‘ being hapless? Should they non be adhering to the American dream? What about seeking to ‘strike it rich ‘ by any agencies possible?

General strain theory provinces that juveniles commit offenses and delinquent Acts of the Apostless because they do non hold the agencies by which to decently ‘deal ‘ with their low restraint and high negative emotionalism ( Agnew et al. , 2002 ) . This explains why desistance occurs subsequently in life for these juveniles, but what about for those who do non abstain from offense as they get older? They have the agencies now of get bying with their educational and parental strains, or those strains have ‘gone off ‘ , so why are they still perpetrating condemnable and delinquent Acts of the Apostless? And what about those persons who do non perpetrate these such Acts of the Apostless as juveniles but get down to make so subsequently on in life? Why is it that with the agencies to get by with life strains some people choose to disregard their get bying mechanisms and alternatively turn to a delinquent and condemnable life? A general strain theoretician would reason that the person has the get bying mechanisms to cover with life strains that they did non possess as juveniles and so should be able to abstain from offense and delinquency, but what if they do non? General strain theory has no ground as to why this occurs.

It is a statement of fact that offense does happen in the slum countries, and this coincides with the positions expressed in general strains theory, but what about those offenses that are non committed in the slum countries? Why are these offenses happening? General strain theory would state that it is because that individual has low restraint and high negative emotionalism, but what if the person is non a juvenile? Should they non hold ‘grown out ‘ of these traits by now? Another issue non explained by general strain theory is why hate offenses occur. Why is it that gays, tribades, cross-dressers, transexuals are discriminated against? Why does favoritism happen at all? Why is it that terrorist act occurs? Why is it that wars occur? General strain theory has no existent solid account for any of these happenings of offense. It can be explained why those who are discriminated against would experience strain and perpetrate a offense or a delinquent act, but why is it precisely that they were discriminated against in the first topographic point? In many cases those people who are ‘non-white ‘ are non farther in front in the American dream than are Whites, and know aparting against person does non further an person ‘s opportunities of accomplishing the American dream, so why is it that favoritism occurs at all?

Another defect of general strain theory is in harmony with accomplishing the American dream. General strain theoreticians province that offenses are committed to better an person ‘s economic state of affairs. What about the offense that is violent and non-monetary? Why does it happen? Yes, it is true that it could be a consequence of negative affectional provinces, but one time pecuniary addition is achieved, so the negative affectional province that an person is in is supposed to disperse without the happening of force. But what if this does non happen?

General strain theory besides does non explicate why it is that females commit offenses. Agnew et Al. ( 2002 ) found that more males than females were prone to holding the traits of low restraint and high negative emotionalism, and Cernkovich et Al. ( 2000 ) found the same to be true in their looking at race and attachment to the American dream, so why is it that some females still do perpetrate offense? Harmonizing to general strain theory, females are extremely improbable to possess high negative emotionalism and low restraint, and do non set much importance on the American dream, so why do some non conform to these factors? What is it that makes some people commit delinquent and condemnable Acts of the Apostless under the same fortunes that others will non? General strain theory has no reply to these inquiries.

Overall, general strain theory does hold its defects, and merely farther research in more diversified countries such as those mentioned above will be able to better on the defects of the theory, as is the instance with any theory that has insufficiencies. Once these many inquiries have replies backed by research, so and merely so will general strain theory be able to adequately explicate all countries of offense and aberrance as they occur in society.

Opinion

I believe that general strain theory does a reasonably equal occupation of explicating offense and aberrance. While mentioned in the old few pages that general strain theory does hold a few defects in explicating offense and aberrance, I believe these defects to be minor in the overall image of things.

General strain theory does what many other theories have problem making, and that is explicating both offense and aberrance. Many theories merely explain one or the other, but general strain theory does the occupation of explicating both. Depending on the degree of restraint and negative emotionalism an single possesses, coupled with the sum of strain that single so faces, will ensue in whether or non their manner of alleviating that strain is condemnable or delinquent.

Another thing that general strain theory does make is that it explains why both instrumental offenses and expressive offenses occur. One is for pecuniary grounds, and has the achieving of the American dream to endorse it ; the other is for deficiency of get bying mechanisms to cover otherwise, and has low restraint and negative emotionalism as concluding behind it.

General strain theory explains why some categories and races are more likely to perpetrate offenses and delinquent Acts of the Apostless than are other categories and races, even if it does non wholly explain why it is that white neckband offense occurs, or why some people of the lower category do non perpetrate offense. Possibly they have stronger get bying mechanisms than other people, possibly other factors are involved. This issue of other factors is where I think many theories go incorrect, and why it is that I think general strain theory does an equal occupation of explicating offense and aberrance. No criminology theory of all time truly takes into history those outside factors that may alter things on a daily footing. Extenuating factors and fortunes are difficult to command for when proving if a theory truly works or non, and in conformity with this, allowances must be made for all theories when make up one’s minding if they truly do their occupation or non.

It is for the above-named ground that I think general strain theory does make what a theory is supposed to make: it offers an account as to why something is happening or go oning. General strain theory can be applied to offense and aberrance, and most offenses are found to be the consequence of strain or pecuniary issues, and it is for these grounds that I think general strain theory does an equal occupation of explicating offense and aberrance. With the usage of emotions and money as the background on which general strain theory is based, the happening of offense and/or aberrance in today ‘s society is to the full explained.

The happening of terrorist act and hatred offenses are definite grounds as to why general strain theory does non make its occupation of explicating offense and aberrance, but once more allowances must be made. No theory wholly explains everything that is supposed to ; everything can non be wholly explained. General strain theory does its best and integrates a figure of things into explicating why it is that one thing ( offense ) occurs in the universe. It does non merely cover with one issue as an account, as some theories are prone to make, but focuses on a few different things alternatively.

Overall, general strain theory is found to be a reasonably sufficient theory when used to explicate why it is that offense and aberrance occur in today ‘s society, and in the societies of the yesteryear. Money makes the universe go ’round and it is because of this that many offenses in the universe do occur. General strain theory merely takes this into history with emotions added to the equation to province why it is precisely that some people commit condemnable and delinquent Acts of the Apostless while others do non.

While it is true that the theory has its mistakes and defects, this can be found to be true of any theory ; no theory is perfect, and that is something to be taken into history.

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