The General Strain Theory Essay

2128 Words 9 Pages
Proposed Topic
Exploring the role of negative emotions among murderers in a population of federal offenders: the General Strain Theory

Introduction
The General Strain Theory (GST) states that people who commit crimes are pressured into them by negative emotions that result from a variety of life strains. Negative emotions cause them to feel in a negative way and thus creating pressure on them to act in a variety of ways, with crime and violence being one possible response. GST has been explored among many different populations, but what has not been explored was its ability to predict crime of murder. The present study focuses on the role that negative emotions play in producing different types of criminal activity and involvement,
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In the 1950’s, Cohen (1955) took Merton’s theory of crime further by focusing on gang delinquency within the working class demographic. Cohen used the central idea of the anomie theory but narrowed its focus on this particular subculture and elaborated it in order to explain the characteristics of gang delinquency.
Similar to Merton and Cohen, Cloward and Ohlin (1960) attempted to explain why certain individuals or groups are more likely to engage in criminal activities. As well, they argued that people are strained when they fail to obtain monetary success through legitimate means. Cloward and Ohlin were in favor of thought that juveniles from a lower-class demographic are motivated by the pursuit of status and that forming their own subculture is a solution to not being able to adjust to their dominant cultural values (Cloward & Ohlin, 1960).
Early versions of strain theory were not supported initially and came under criticism due to the inherent theoretical limitations as well as a lack of an empirical support for their propositions (Agnew and Passas, 1997; Burton, Cullen, & Evans, 1994; Kornhauser, 1978). The main argument of classic strain theories is that individuals, under a disadvantage caused by the discrepancy among the lower class demographic, are pressured to achieve certain universal goals. Failing to achieve them through legitimate avenues, they resort to
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