A General Strain Theory Model of Community Level Drug Activity

Barbara D. Warner, Eastern Kentucky University

In a recent article, Agnew (1999) argues that General StrainTheory offers an alternative to social control explanations of community crime rates. In this paper we empirically examine both aggregated levels of personal strain as well as strain occurring specifically in the neighborhood in relation to neighborhood level drug activity, an hypothesized response to strain. Using data from 66 neighborhoods in Kentucky, I find that, controlling for levels of disadvantage and stability, both the percent of residents experiencing strain specifically within their neighborhood are positively and significantly related to levels of neighborhood drug activity. Factors that are hypothesized to mediate the effect of strain on criminal behavior, such as values conducive to crime and low social control are also examined.

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Updated 05/20/2006