Community, Strain, and Delinquency: A Test of a Multi-Level Model of General Strain Theory

Jennifer Wareham, University of South Florida
Christine S. Sellers, University of South Florida
John K. Cochran, University of South Florida

Although general strain theory was initially advanced as a micro-social theory, Agnew (1999) has recently proposed a macro-social version or the theory. Agnew's macro-social general strain theory predicts that community differences, including racial and economic inequality, influence levels of community strain, which may then lead to higher crime rates. However, Agnew's explication of the macro-level model strongly suggests that a multi-level integrated theory of general strain is also appropriate. Using data collected from 1,674 students attending high school and middle school, this study investigates the degree to which community characteristics influence individual levels of strain, negative affect, and delinquency and whether the effects of strain on individual delinquency are more salient within communities characterized by higher levels of inequality.

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Updated 05/20/2006