Offshoots of Strain Theory Term Paper

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Strain Theory

The subject of strain theory is a very hot topic in the public, psychology and otherwise scholarly spheres. Indeed, academic search engines are teeming with reports, studies and summaries of strain theory in all of its forms, functions and offshoots. This report shall cover five scholarly-reviewed works pertaining to strain theory and/or its variants, in its entirety or in part. The true genesis of what leads some people to become criminals, what leads some people to become victims and how some people transcend both through their lives is the subject of rigorous study. While the true and complete answer to what causes some people to offend may never be known, some answers and trends are already known and some of those will be summarized in this report.


One "strain" of strain theory is the perspective of looking at direct and vicarious violent victimization. This paradigm can be applied to juvenile delinquency and its associated causes. Indeed, 1.7 million children a year experience some form of victimization. There is a litany of studies and research projects that explore the linkage between victimization and delinquency. However, the research is more sparse when it comes to vicarious victimization. As the word implies, vicarious victimization is when the victimization is not direct and overt to the person who suffers but is instead when a child is exposed indirectly such as violence against one's family members or friends. The victimization/delinquency dichotomy, when assessed, usually focuses on criminal involvement. Studies such as Sampson/Lauritsen in 1990 and Schreck in 1999 are just two of many. However, factoring in ancillary and indirect victimization can be hard to quantify and measure in terms of effects and causality. However, it is beyond debate to many that exposure to stressors such as raised voices, witnessing of abuse, being around a criminal or otherwise depraved environment and so forth are not conducive to a child that will grow up to be a productive non-criminal. At least one of the few studies that cover both direct and vicarious about has found that the presence of both in front of and directed at a single child leads to a proverbial "double whammy." It has become clear that a child that fall victim to "dual victimization" will tend to turn out worse than a child that only experiences one or the other (Lin, Cochran & Mieczkowski, 2011).

Other work in the field of strain theory has looked specifically at the correlations and commonalities when looking at strain, coping and socioeconomic status all at the same time. One such study found and held that the common effects and outcomes of strain theory seem to pervade and transcend all levels of socioeconomic status. This held true regardless of coping strategies, coping outcomes and so on. Alcohol-related malfeasance and abuse seemed to be pretty nominal despite what might be expected given the linkage between alcohol and deviance of many forms. That all being said, it was also seen that there is a likely tendency for some coping mechanisms and structures to win out in some socioeconomic status levels as compared the ones found in others. For example, someone living in poverty would tend to cope one way and someone in an upper middle-class setting might react a different way. The point is that they both cope but they do so in different ways and the overall outcomes are roughly the same regardless of class and wealth. Nonetheless, many have suggested that poverty is an antecedent to crime and thus the former would much more likely lead to the latter when poverty and economic travails are involved. However, while this may be an explanation for some individual cases, it is not true all or even most of the time per at least some research studies that exist in the scholarly ether (Botchkovar, Tittle & Antonaccio, 2013).

Other work in the general strain theory prism loops together stalking-related strain, concurrent negative emotions and the proper coping strategies that are prevalent in people that avoid deviance and crime as a life pattern. Indeed, stalking is a real problem that usually befalls women. The effects that lead to the stalkers engaging in their behavior and the concurrent reactions that occur with the victims is yet another strain theory-related dichotomy that some researchers strive to consider and solve. Indeed, when stalking is occurring, there is a concurrent maelstrom of emotions and coping, some good and some bad, all at the same time. One issue that vexes some researchers with contrarian viewpoints is that much of the strain theory research paradigm focuses on negative reactions and coping rather than good ones. One thing that is not up for debate is that the different genders tend to react entirely differently to the same sort of events. Being exposed to stalking or other negative events that lend themselves to a strain theory discussion will almost always elicit very different reactions based on whether it is a man or a woman doing the reacting. While men and women can transpose the "traditional" vendor roles, they are called traditional and typical for a reason. This is because they prove themselves to be the "norm" and the regular more often than it does not happen. Being the victim of a crime or indecent act tends to lead to moral outrage express "outward" by a male. However, a woman is more likely to experience fear, anxiety, guilt and shame. Further, these emotions are usually directed inward rather than outwards towards others (Ngo & Paternoster, 2013).

One microcosm of strain theory and its articulated results is hate crimes. This is yet another offshoot of strain theory and the discussion thereof where the research outcomes and information is a bit sparse. Of course, one problem with using the term "hate crime" is that there are a lot of varying definitions of what is and what is not a hate crime. Indeed, the state legislatures and other government bodies that have passed laws on the subject have tended to diverge quite a bit from one another on the subject. This is also true when speaking of academics and unelected officials at state agencies. The word "hate" and what level of hate constitutes escalated prosecutions and sentencing is one thing but even defining what is a crime and what is not can be hard to pull off effectively. For example, many hold that the protests held by the detestable Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS constitutes hate speech and/or hate crimes. However, the United States Supreme Court has already (and recently) held that such speech is completely legal and acceptable under the United States Constitution so long as it is non-violent and does no invoke any of the exceptions called for in that same amendment. However, there are some sorts of crime that are undeniably hate speech in the minds of many. For example, attacking a group of people specifically because of race, ethnicity or religion tends to be always classified as hate speech. Also commonly called hate speech is any action or reaction that stems from insecurity or "encroachment" upon the group that the offender populates. Other factors that can be involved include socioeconomic security and cultural norms. The salient point here is that there are a variety of factors that drive crime in general and hate crimes of any form or function tend to be the same way. Of course, not all people refer to these insecurities and anxieties with deviance and crime. However, many of people do and this phenomenon will surely be a subject of future study and review (Walters, 2011).

Finally, a more common theory and point of analysis within the realm of strain theory would be that of the link between general deviance and violent victimization. Indeed, it is clear through statistics and data of the past that people who engage in criminal behavior are themselves more likely to end up as a recipient of victimization themselves. An ancillary compare and contrast that can be made is the link between victmiziation is linked to whether there are acts of robbery, property crimes, running away from home, making obscene or prank phones calls and so forth. One way in which these relationships are studied is manifested when criminologists link routine activities and deviant lifestyles. Similarly, the overlap between offending and victimization is also looked at. While these may seem like two different points of analysis, they are actually quite related and parallel in nature. The reason this holds true is that both veins of study places emphasis and focus on a person's general habits, their behavior patterns, their lifestyle choices, how much they are in contact with offenders, and so forth. These forms of behaviors and activities may not be as obvious as one might think. For example, people that simply go to bars and clubs on a consistent basis are more likely to become victims due to the actions, behaviors and people that they are exposed to. Indeed, any situation where offenders are thick as…[continue]

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