Individual sociologist Robert K. Merton. The theory states


Individual strain
refers to the pains or “difficult” times experienced by an individual as he looks
for alternative ways or methods to prevent his or hers ongoing strain. If the
goals of a group become substantial to an individual, actually achieving it or obtaining
your goal may become more significant than the means accepted (Robert
Agnew,2004). The theory “Social strain
theory” was developed by sociologist Robert K. Merton. The theory states
that social structures may force citizens to commit crimes. According Merton,
there are five ways to adapt to strain (Dickinson,2017). The first being
conformity, which means pursuing cultural goals through socially approved
means. Secondly there is Innovation, which is using socially unapproved or
unconventional means to obtain culturally approved goals. Example: dealing
drugs or theft to achieve financial security. The third way to adapt is by
ritualism, using the same socially approved means to achieve less subtle goals.

(Dickinson,2017) After that, there is retreatism, to reject both the cultural
goals, and the means to gain it, then find a way to escape it. (Dickinson,2017)
The fifth and final way to adapt according to Merton is rebellion, to reject
the cultural goals and means, then work to replace them. (Dickinson,2017) It is
argued that individuals experience strain when they aim to achieve financial
success but do not expect to reach it, because they perceive the goal of
success to be out of range (Dickinson,2017). GST proposes that there are 3
sources of strain, which are: 1) When you are stopped from getting something
you desire. 2) Take away something you value. 3) Do something or threaten to do
something that you do not want. (Dickinson,2017) There are four ways to respond
to this strain, which are the following: 1) Crime. 2) Cognitive coping
strategies. 3) Behavioral coping strategies. 4) Emotional coping strategies. (Dickinson,2017)
This leads to the main question, why are people more likely to respond to
strain with crime? There is five main reason why people respond to strain with
crime. When strains involve important areas of life, poor coping skills and
resources, few conventional supports, if the cost of crime is low, or when you
are disposed to crime. (Robert
H. Aseltine) Strain can also affect delinquency. Juveniles are less able
to cope with strains than adults for various reasons, one being they are
inexperienced and emotionally immature. Juveniles experience strains that
adults do not, for example, they are bullied in school or fail an exam.

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According to General Strain Theory, Individuals with a greater access to coping
mechanisms will be less likely to commit deviances or crime. GST also includes
various expansions. First one being Vicarious Strains, which is when people
close to you are going through strains. Second being Anticipated Strains, (Robert H.Aseltine )which is
when you feel like something bad is going to occur (Ex. You believe you cannot
pay next month’s rent, so you commit a robbery in order to pay rent.) Then
there is Master Traits, which is having high negative emotions and low
self-control.( Robert H.Aseltine
)

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