Criminal Motivation in Robert Agnew's General Strain Theory Essay

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Criminal Motivation in Robert Agnew's General Strain Theory

Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory (GST) argues that strain or stress is the major source of criminal motivation. He expands upon Merton’s Anomie Theory of strain and stress to include several causes of strain or stress. Agnew categorizes 3 types of strain that produce deviance: the failure to achieve positively valued goals, the loss of positive stimuli, and the introduction of negative stimuli. There are several different actions that can be taken to correct the strain in order to curb deviance, including exercise, counseling, and advocacy programs. Furthermore, we will also look at how this relates to domestic violence.

As first mentioned there are 3 categories to
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The failure to achieve positively valued goals is a central part of GST. It leads one to believe that, in part, the strain caused by not achieving the goals set by communities (be it economic success or achieving status and respect, etc) causes stress on the individual to commit crimes in an attempt to achieve these goals.

The second aspect of Agnew’s GST is the loss or potential loss of positive stimuli. This stressor involves the loss of the “opportunity to freely engage in a range of valued behaviors” (Broidy; Agnew, 1997), such as the loss of romantic partners or friends. In other words, the ability (or lack-there-of) of an individual to deal with stressful events in life can produce deviant feelings and behavior.

Agnew’s last strain producer, the presentation of negative stimuli, refers to such things as child abuse, negative experiences at school, homelessness, and poor association with peers.

Agnew suggests that crime isn’t the only approach people will use in their response to strain. According to Agnew, there are 3 types of strategies, apart from crime, that people can utilize to deal with stress and strain through legitimate means. He says that cognitive, emotional, and behavioral coping strategies can be used to reduce strain in a person’s life (Broidy; Agnew, 1997). Cognitive strategies allow the person to decipher stress in a different way. A person can reduce the significance of the strain, or maximize the
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