Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

General Strain Theory

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_218


General strain theory (GST) states that strains increase the likelihood of crime, particularly strains that are high in magnitude, are seen as unjust, are associated with low social control, and create some pressure or incentive for criminal coping. Examples include parental rejection, criminal victimization, a desperate need for money, and discrimination. These strains increase crime for several reasons; most notably, they lead to a range of negative emotions, which create pressure for corrective action. Crime is one possible response. Crime may be used to reduce or escape from strains (e.g., theft to obtain money, running away to escape abusive parents), seek revenge against the source of strain or related targets, or alleviate negative emotions (e.g., through illicit drug use). A range of factors, however, influence the response to strains. A criminal response is more likely when people lack the ability to cope in a legal manner, are disposed to crime, and the costs of...

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Recommended Reading and References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA