Strain Theory Is It Social Or Criminal Criminology Essay


Siegel, L., Welsh, B (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. New York: Cengage Learning. Strain theory has been defined differently by various schools of thoughts depending on its nature; it may be social, or criminal just to mention a few. Theory is a set of ideas formulated to explain a given phenomenon. In their book Siegel & Welsh define general strain theory as sets of ideas one come up with to explain an occurrence of a crime due to strain in life. Siegel & Welsh, suggests that personalities of an individual stimulates reaction towards a strain; and it is these traits that make an individual to turn into violent actions in the spirit of relieving stress brought into their lives by strain ;further committing crime. Siegel & Welsh states further that most individuals who react negatively to strain act in delinquent way, as opposed to deliberate malice.

Cote, S. (2008). Criminological theories: bridging the past to the future. New Jersey: SAGE publishers

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Cote suggests that most criminal activities results from unaccomplished positive goals. The article continues to assert that there are different types of strains in males and females resulting in gender variations in crime types. Besides, males value material considerations and suffer financial stress; this is believed to cause higher rates of man to property crime; women, on the other hand, once in a while may steal to provide for their families.

"When people are treated badly they may get upset and engage in crime" (Cote, 2008). According to Cote, there are different ways of measuring differing types of strains, and that they are linked between strain and crime. Cote suggests two types of measuring strains in an individual's life: First and foremost, is the subjective approach, here the researcher asks an individual directly whether they dislike how they are being treated. Lastly, is the objective one, the researcher asks an individual pre-determined causes of strain. He adds by saying that, people react differently to different types of strains and hence subjectively view different types of objective strains. Subsequently, to obtain an effective measure of strain, a comprehensive list of negative circumstances that can lead to strain in different people and cumulative impact of negative relations must be taken into account

Hagan, F. (2010). Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior, Edition7. New Jersey: SAGE publishers

According to Hagan, there are three types' strains regarding general strain theory: Firstly.Failure to achieve positively valued stimuli, these are goals set by an individual for achievement, they include, money of which if one wants to get openly, failure to which one gets stressed. Another positively valued goal is status and respect - this is biased towards masculinity and is thought to be achieved criminally, (Hagan, 2010). To end with, is the autonomy - the independence of an individual, this affects mostly younger people due to their status in the society think they are controlled.

The second type of strain is the loss of positively valued stimuli, this he says could result in loss of one's life or relationship (friendship or romance).An individual may attempt to recover the loss, prevent the loss or carry revenge on the one who led to the loss. Summarizing the list of strains, is the presentation of negative strain, the negative life events may cause increase delinquent behavior in adolescents.

Barkan, S. (2007). Criminology: a sociological understanding. London: Prentice Hall publishers

According to Barkan's works, strains from outside environment may lead to negative feelings but not necessarily resulting in crime. He asserts, that anger was found to incite, lowers morale and perpetuates revenge; hence an individual may justify crime based on this. Similarly, continued strain leads to quick saturation resulting to anger and follows is a criminal act by the victim.

McLaughlin, E. Muncie, J. (2006). The Sage dictionary of criminology. Edition2. New Jersey: SAGE publishers

Most theories brought forward by different people seldom draw mixed reactions from several quarters of life. Conventional theories are hard to come by! In another theory, "Labeling Theory", the increase in crime rate is caused by law enforcers in the process of carrying on their duties. The arrested and prosecuted people are deemed criminals by law and society; this is believed to stimulate further delinquent behaviors. These laballed individuals may lack legitimate employment increasing the levels of strain and irrelevance in the society.Society, on the other hand, shuns associating with criminals; more certainly labeled individuals find themselves together fostering the social learning of crime, (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2006).

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Morrison, W. (2005). Theoretical Criminology. London: Routledge publishers

Morrison argues that, labeling causes crime in some situations, and reduces in others. It increases crime rate when the offenders are not accepted back to the society, and reduces it when offenders are forgiven and integrated back the community.

Morrison Says that some can come up to be what he or she is labeled and this probably would happen to children or someone low self - esteem.

Gennaro, V., Holmes, R. (2007). Criminology: theory, research, and policy; Criminal Justice Illuminated. Edition2. Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning

Gennaro & Holmes holds that labeling theory states that the society places labels on juvenile delinquents leading the stigmatization and negative labels of the youth, hence such young people develop negative image.Consequently, the youth who succumbs to labeling in many cases would act as a criminal deviating from the normal positive norms of the society by believing that they are not wanted by their communities.

Siegel, L. Welsh, C. Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. Edition10. NewYork: Cengage Learning

Siegel & Welsh defines theory of labeling as a form of stereotype that one may struggle to get out of, once he or she is a victim, and the immediate environment in which one is brought up plays an important role in labeling; infact, he gives an example of children raised in slum areas who are not expected to achieve a lot in life pertaining success. On the other hand a child raised in affluence is deemed to be an achiever in life. The youth from the slum may not be believed by the authority to have broken the laws unknowingly; unlike, the one from "a leafy suburb". In nutshell, a youth from slums stigmatized as a criminal.

Barlow, D. Decker, S. (2006). Criminology and Public Policy: Putting Theory to Work. Chicago: Temple University Press

Barlow & Decker establishes that each person has power to make their own choices in life and hence can opt for either a vice or a virtue, according to classical theory. It also claims that people tend to fear punishment due to criminal acts and may more often control criminal tendencies.Besides; the offenders of law tend to completely refrain from crime if the punishment associated to this is severe; unlike when it is fairly imposed.

Briggs, S. (2009). Criminology for Dummies. Singapore: For Dummies publications,

Briggs (2009) postulates that the African Americans are likely to experience several qualitative and specific types of strain compared to the white people leading to greater negative emotions in African - Americans.Quatitatively, most black people may engage in criminal acts due to the stereotype. All these theories, put forward different views towards what causes people to engage in criminal acts, these differences may occur due the modes of research applied, believes of the schools of thoughts amongst other variables.

Lilly, R. Cullen, F. (2007). Criminological theory: context and consequences. Edition4. London: Oxford University press.

The theory of general strain, states that one engages in crime when they are not able to reach their set positive goals. While the theory of labeling contends that the laws may victimize one causing stigma of a criminal in him or her and hence choosing to act violently. Besides, the classical theory, says one has a choice to make before acting criminally, these may be controlled by the associated levels of punishments.


Most states are governed by laws; with provisions of penalties towards criminal activities; and hence if one acts in a manner likely to suggest he or she had an intention to commit crime; then the laws may swing to action. This, in most cases would not dependent on what made one to act in any manner or who pushed him or her to break the law.

Everyone has the responsibility to be a law abiding individual unless you want to spend sometime in jail.