International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

General Strain Theory of Delinquency: the Developmental Process of Robert Agnew’s Works from a Historical Perspective
Ismail YILMAZ, Ph.D.; PhD Gökhan KOCA

Extending the studies of Merton (1938; 1957), Cohen (1955), Cloward and Ohlin (1960), Criminologist Robert Agnew has given a new impetus to a fading theory of strain. He brought a new perspective to the science of criminology by analyzing psychological literature and including the components of research on stress. Rather than focusing only on discrepancies of cultural norms, Agnew not only utilized from sociology, but also from the psychology literature. In this sense, Agnew’s strain theory of crime and delinquency is not purely structural in nature. Rather, it appeals to a blend of different levels of analysis. In Agnew’s opinion, the causes of strain may be found outside the structural and cultural characteristics of society. More precisely, strain does not always stem from the blockage of monetary success and achievement of middle-class status. Rather, it may also develop from social-psychological causes such as removal of a positive stimulus or presentation of a negative stimulus. As such, he showed that the causes of delinquency cannot be attributable to a particular factor. His analysis of the variables of other theories prove that the complex nature of crime and delinquency should be examined both in the social and psychological levels (Maxim, Whitehead, & Nettler, 1998).

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