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Strain Theory of Crime

Strain theories of crime propose that people are pressured into crime through experiencing stressful events. Classic strain theories focus on the mismatch between the desire to obtain monetary success and the opportunity to achieve it. Those who experience this type of strain (i.e., the lower class) may choose crime as a way to achieve their goal of obtaining middle-class success. Given that people experience many different types of strain beyond financial-related strain and those who are part of the middle class engage in crime as well, Robert Agnew developed general strain theory (GST) to expand on the shortcomings of classic strain theories. This entry describes the history of strain theory as well as the assumptions and concepts of GST, then explores how GST has been ...

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