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General Strain Theory Essay

2202 words - 9 pages

General Strain Theory: Robert Agnew
At one point in life, every individual will experience strain. Theorist Robert Agnew tried to explain that when an individual experiences strain, he/she would feel a certain negative emotion or emotions. These negative emotions may lead a person to cope their strain through delinquent behavior. This paper will first summarize a recent crime on the news and it will also address Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory. The three situations that are believed to cause strain will be explained, as well as the five factors that can make it strenuous for a person to cope in a positive and legal manner. This paper will also discuss why Agnew would explain this ...view middle of the document...

As for the ex-boyfriend Pedro Enrique Duquesne, he was arrested hours following the late morning shooting. Although he pleaded not guilty, San Bernardino Superior Court charged him with one count of murder and one count of burglary (Saunders, 2014).
Nelly Kantun had made comments to her co-workers about ending her relationship with Pedro and admitted she was afraid that he would attempt to hurt her if she ever tried to leave him. Although Pedro would be aggressive with Nelly, he sought comfort and depended on her to fill a void. Pedro always felt the need to be in charge of her and was constantly possessive of her. By no longer being in a relationship it caused him to feel loneliness. Pedro soon realized that the companionship, affection, and the feeling of comfort he received through her presence were gone. He felt the need to get her back, but in a revengeful manner for betraying him. He did not know how to cope with the pain and this led him to go after her and commit this violent act. Theorist Robert Agnew would consider this to be an example of his General Strain Theory.
Strain can occur when an individual has excessive pressure on his/herself to reach a certain positive goal; not being able to or being far from achieving a specific positive and desired goal may lead an individual to feel frustrated. According to Mathews (2011), “Agnew (2006) posits that youth and adults are pressured into crime through strains that they experience” (p. 867). Robert Agnew’s theory is a micro level theory; meaning that he looked all individuals to show that strain is important in order to explain delinquent behavior. In his theory, Agnew tried to explain how every individual is faced with strains, but the main focus is on how an individual chooses to cope with certain strains.
Agnew argued that three things cause strain; these three things can be seen as three categories that cause stress. Mathews (2011) mentioned the three things that cause strain: “The exposure to noxious stimuli, the removal of positive stimuli, and blocked goals” (p.206). Strain then triggers negative emotions, which may lead to negative emotions (Moon and Morash, 2012). Mathews (2011) would agree, she adds that strain produces negative emotions such as “anger, disappointment, frustration, depression, fear, or hopelessness” (p. 865). After being strained from any of these three categories, an individual will feel certain negative emotion or emotions, perhaps anger. What Agnew was arguing is that anger creates a sense of power, which can lead an individual to desire revenge, as was the case of Pedro.
Agnew would explain that Pedro Enrique Duquesne committed this crime because he was experiencing strain caused by one of the three categories, particularly the removal of positively stimuli. In this case, his girlfriend was the positive valued stimuli; by her removing herself from his life, Pedro felt hurt which soon became anger (one of the negative emotions strain produces...

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