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Strain Theories

Strain Theories

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Strain Theories

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  1. Strain Theories Anomie Merton’s Theory General Strain Theory Institutional Anomie Theory Relative Deprivation Theory

  2. Strain Theory: R.K.Merton. • Merton used Durkheim's idea about anomie • Anomie is the state of normlessness • Rules of behaviourhave broken down • Rapid social change • Personal life crisis • Egoistic, altruistic, and anomic suicide

  3. Egoisitic suicide • Egoisitic suicide resulted from too little social integration • Durkheim discovered was that of unmarried people, particularly males, committed suicide at higher rates than married people

  4. Altruistic suicide • Altruistic suicide, is a result of too much integration • Individuals are so integrated into social groups that they lost sight of their individuality and became willing to sacrifice themselves to the group's interests • The most common cases of altruistic suicide occurred among members of the military

  5. Anomic suicide • Sudden changes on the microsocial and macrosocial levels • War, crisis, divorce, death, unemployment

  6. Strain Theory: R.K.Merton. • “Anomie is a state wherein society fails to exercise adequate regulation of the goals and desires of individual members” (p.165) • in American society, there is a disjunction between the socially-produced and encouraged ends or goals and the means through which they could achieve these desirable ends

  7. Strain Theory: R.K.Merton. • In simple terms, they were socialised into the "American Dream" of health, wealth, personal happiness • American society is structured to ensure that the vast majority of people could never realistically attain these ends through the means that American society provided in legitimate ways - hard work

  8. Merton’s theory • Because of this tension anomie occurs • In a situation whereby people desired success - yet were effectively denied it - he argued that people would find other, probably less legitimate, means towards desired ends.

  9. Merton’s typology • Merton elaborated five basic responses to the anomic situation which he claimed to see in American society • He classified these types ofconformity and deviance in terms of acceptance and denial of basic ends and means

  10. Merton’s typology

  11. Merton’s Conformity Conformity applies to the law-abiding citizen These people accept both socially-produced ends and the socially-legitimated means to achieve them

  12. Merton’s Innovation • Innovation is deviant behaviour that uses illegitimate means to achieve socially acceptable goals • Drug crimes, property crimes and some white collar crimes would be examples of innovation

  13. Merton’s Ritualism • 3. Ritualism might refer to someone who conforms to socially-approved means, but has lost sight of the ends (or has come to accept that they will never achieve them) • Such people are likely to be elderly and they probably enjoy a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.

  14. Merton’s Retreatism An example of retreatism is someone who "drops-out" of mainstream society. The drug addict who retreats into a self-contained world, the alcoholic who is unable to hold-down a steady job

  15. Assessment • Monetary success is the only one motive mentioned by Merton • Some criminals are engaged into deviant activities for no apparent reason (enjoyable) • White collar crime is not explained • If the strains of life really operates as suggested by Merton, why it is most member of society engage in law-abiding activities

  16. Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory (1992) • Original strain theory predicted a concentration of delinquent behavior in the lower class (monetary strain, status frustration) • Research proved that delinquency was also common in the middle and upper classes (monetary strain cannot explain)

  17. Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory • Strain for Agnew is neither structural nor interpersonal, but emotional • Perception of an adverse environment will lead to strongly negative emotions that motivate one to engage in crime

  18. Robert Agnew • Believes that Anger has a significant impact on all measures of crime and deviance Strain ANGER Criminal Behavior

  19. Robert Agnew’s GST • Expands on traditional strain theory • Include all types of negative relations b/w an individual and others • GST maintains that strain is likely to have a cumulative effect on delinquency after reaching a certain threshold

  20. Anger in your life • Can you think of an negative event that made you very angry? • How did you cope with anger? • Who helped you to cope with your anger? • How often do you experience anger?

  21. Three major types of strain • Failure to achieve positively valued goals (gap between expectations and actual achievements, not always long-term) • Loss of positive stimuli (experiencing the stressful impact felt before and after moving, death of a relative/close friend) • Presentation of negative stimuli (peer pressure, physical /emotional abuse)

  22. Links Between Strain and Crime • Anger was found to incite a person to action, lower inhibitions, and create a desire for revenge • Agnew especially stressed that individuals who are subject to repetitive strain may be more likely to commit crime

  23. Sources of Strain • Social sources of strain (negative interactions with other people) • Community sources of strain (some communities increase the likelihood that people get angry and frustrated and can be more prone to crime • community level factors: economic deprivation, family disruption, fear of crime, child abuse, over crowding, bad housing)

  24. Coping Strategies Other Than Crime • Crime is not the only way that people will respond to strain • There are three different types of coping strategies that enable the individual to deal with the strain in their life through legitimate means • Cognitive • Emotional • Behavioral

  25. Cognitive coping strategies • Enable the individual to rationalize the stressors in three ways (Agnew, 1992) • Minimize the importance of the strain by placing less importance on a particular goal • Maximizing the positive while minimizing the negative outcomes of an event. This is an attempt to ignore the fact that there has been a negative event • Accept the outcomes of the negative outcomes as fair

  26. Behavioral coping strategies • Individuals may actively seek out positive stimuli (Social supports from friends and relatives) • Try to escape negative stimuli. In addition, individuals may actively seek out revenge in a nondelinquent manner (Agnew, 1992:69)

  27. Emotional coping strategies • Relaxation methods • Sport • Meditation

  28. Determinants of Delinquent Behavior • If the initial goals and values of a person are high and they have few alternative goals to fall back on, then the person may be more prone to committing delinquent acts (beauty queen) • Bad temper, previous delinquent behavior, delinquent friends

  29. Agnew’s Theory Factors affecting disposition to delinquency Strain ANGER Criminal Behavior Constraints to delinquent behavior

  30. Male Versus Female Strain and Crime • Males and females have been found to experience different types of strain and different emotions

  31. Sex differences in emotional response to strain (Agnew and Broidy, 1997:281-283)

  32. Sex differences in coping strategies • Research indicated that females employ escape and avoidance methods to relieve the strain • Females may, however, have stronger relational ties that might help to reduce strain (social support) • Males are lower in social control, and they socialize in large, hierarchical peer groups where they need to maintain their status • Females form close social bonds in small groups • Therefore, males are more likely to respond to strain with crime (Agnew 1997).

  33. Policy Recommendations • Agnew proposed several different programs to reduce delinquency which have shown success after being implemented

  34. Policy Recommendations • Family-based programs are designed to teach the members how to solve problems in a constructive manner, and parents are taught how to effectively discipline their children (Agnew, 1995) • This will reduce the amount of negative emotions that result from conflict in the family and will decrease the amount of strain in the home

  35. Policy Recommendations • School-based programs seek to improve relations in and between schools • Peer based programs seek to reduce the amount of strain that an adolescent feels as a result of relationships with peers • Relationships with peers can be negative when the peers are delinquent or when they are physically or verbally abusive toward other peers

  36. Critiques • There is not much data to support or refute it • Objective/subjective strain • Measurement of strain

  37. Institutional Anomie Theory • Messner and Rosenfeld (1997) argued that the crime problem is related to “American Dream”, which they define: • “a commitment to the goal of material success, to be pursued by everyone in society under conditions of open, individual competition” • Teamwork/individualism

  38. Institutional Anomie Theory • This exerts pressure toward crime by encouraging an anomic environment • “everything goes” mentality • Individuals as well as social institutions are under the influence of “American Dream” ideology

  39. Family Institution • Individualism and independence for children • Children are cut off any financial support very early (compare to other cultures) • Early work is encouraged • Family orient and train individuals for better paying jobs • “Close ties” are sacrificed for the sake of achievement

  40. Education Institution • Quantity of courses vs quality of studying (written exams vs oral exams) • Results: in a couple of years students do not remember much from the courses they have taken • Education prepare and train individuals for high-paying job • Religion has been undermined • “Value” of people is measured by their material gain (Gates, Trump, etc)

  41. Relative Deprivation Theory • Messner and Rosenfeld, 1997 • To fell anomie a person should see/feel deprivation • People with the same social standing can have different sense of deprivation • The poorest Americans are far richer in terms of material possessions that the average citizen of many third world nations

  42. Relative Deprivation Theory • Relative Deprivation refers to the economic gap that exists between rich and poor who live in close proximity to one another • Stanford vs WSU

  43. Relative Deprivation Theory • Inner-city inhabitants develop an increased sense of relative deprivation because they can witness well-to-do lifestyle in nearby neighborhoods • People start question their place in the reward structure of society • Sense of injustice is the source of strain that can lead to criminal behavior