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Merton’s Theory Agnew’s General Strain Theory

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1 Merton’s Theory Agnew’s General Strain Theory
Strain Theories Merton’s Theory Agnew’s General Strain Theory

2 American Dream

3 Strain Theory: R.K.Merton.
In simple terms, we are socialized 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 provides in legitimate ways - hard work

4 Merton’s Anomie Anomie is a disjunction between the socially-produced and encouraged ends or goals and the means through which people can achieve these desirable ends

5 Merton’s theory Because of this tension anomie occurs
When a desired success is denied, people would find other, probably less legitimate, means toward desired ends.

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

7 Merton’s typology + - Response: Means: Ends: 1. Conformity
2. Innovation - 3. Ritualism 4. Retreatism 5. Rebellion Rejects means Rejects ends

8 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

9 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

10 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.

11 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

12 Merton’s rebbellion Political deviance is a good example of the rebellion response, whether this is expressed in terms of working for a revolutionary group or through political terrorism

13 Assessment Monetary success is the only one motive mentioned by Merton
Some criminals are engaged into deviant activities for no apparent reason (enjoyable) If the strains of life really operates as suggested by Merton, why most members of society are engaged in law-abiding activities?

14 Agnew (1992) and GST General strain theory (GST)
Agnew postulated that strain does not need to be specifically tied to economic status because it is actually a psychological reaction to any perceived negative aspect of one's social environment

15 GST Hypothetically, individuals from all social classes could engage in criminal behavior because they could all experience negative emotions arising from strain

16 Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory (1992)
Anger has a significant impact on all measures of crime and deviance Strain ANGER Criminal Behavior

17 What are Strains? Strains refer to events or conditions that are disliked by most individuals

18 Three major types of strain
Failure to achieve positively valued goals Loss of positive stimuli Presentation of negative stimuli

19 Failure to achieve positively valued goals
Gap between expectations and actual achievements (not always long-term)

20 Loss of positive stimuli
Moving to a new city/school Parental divorce Death of a relative/close friend Break Up

21 Presentation of negative stimuli
Peer pressure Physical /emotional abuse) Stress, bullying and depression ranked one, two and three respectively in a list of incidents as reported by elementary, middle and high school students.

22 As reported by students enrolled in schools using AnComm’s ‘Talk About It®’ anonymous online reporting service. The annual AnComm ‘Talk About It®’ Report sample includes more than 70,000 students enrolled in 52 schools across 12 states.

23 GST While GST posited that each type of strain ultimately lead to deviance for slightly different reasons, all three types were thought to increase the likelihood that an individual would experience negative emotions in proportion to the magnitude, duration, and recency of the stress

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

25 Links Between Strain and Crime
Anger was found to incite a person to action, and create a desire for revenge Crime allows individuals to obtain revenge against those who have wronged them Crime may allow individuals to alleviate their negative emotions

26 Coping with strain through crime
Why are some people more likely than other to cope with strains through crime? Bad temper Low self-control Previous delinquent behavior Delinquent friends If the initial goals are high and they have few alternative goals to fall back on, then the person may be more prone to committing delinquent acts

27 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

28 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

29 Behavioral coping strategies
Individuals may actively seek out positive stimuli (social support from friends and relatives) Try to escape negative stimuli In addition, individuals may actively seek out revenge in a non-delinquent manner (Agnew, 1992:69)

30 Emotional coping strategies
Relaxation methods Sport Meditation

31 GST and gender differences in crime
The levels and types of strain could be different for girls and for boys Boys and girls may have different responses to the same strain Gender variation in conditioning effects (gender differences in dealing/coping with strain)

32 The levels and types of strain
Boys are more likely than are girls to experience strain because of negative peer relations that are marked by conflict, competition, jealousy, and imbalance Girls are especially susceptible to strain caused by problems in forming and maintaining positive relationships with family and friends

33 Different responses to the same strain
Consistent with gender socialization, when facing stressors, males would be more likely to behave aggressively Females would be more likely to engage in more passive and self-destructive forms of delinquency, such as running away form home, alcohol use, etc.

34 Sex differences in emotional responses
Female Male More likely to respond with depression and anger More likely to respond with anger Anger is accompanied by fear, guilt, and shame Anger is followed by moral outrage More likely to blame themselves and worry about the affects of their anger Quick to blame others and are less concerned about hurting others Depression and guilt may lead to self-destructive behaviors (i.e. eating disorders) Moral outrage may lead to property and violent crime

35 Sex differences in coping strategies
Females employ escape and avoidance methods to relieve the strain Females 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 Therefore, males are more likely to respond to strain with crime (Agnew 1997).

36 Empirical support Numerous tests of GST had also examined the relationship between strain and negative emotion, yielding mixed results Several studies had found strain-induced anger to be the primary negative emotion to exert a significant effect on deviance (Broidy, 2001 and Piquero and Sealock, 2000).

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

38 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

39 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

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