General Strain Theory: An Analysis of Adult Female Criminality

Kathleen M. Curry, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

Robert Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST) has been rarely applied when explaining adult female criminality as an aspect of social life (Broidy and Agnew, 1997). However, GST is well attuned and applicable, exactly because it does not contain one hypothesis to be tested but many. Now although generalizable, GST is anything but generic. GST contends that there are many specific strains and manners of coping that cultivate violent crime, non-violent crime, and the absence of crime (Agnew, 1992; Broidy and Agnew, 1997). This study examines the relationship between operationalized aspects of Robert Agnew's GST and adult female crime. The data used were collected from 851 crime-involved, cocaine-dependent women in the Miami, FL area during the time span from 1994 to 1998 (Pottieger and Tressell, 1999). Logistic regression models were constructed to test which types of strain as outlined by Agnew (1992; Broidy and Agnew, 1997) have the most significant effects upon adult female commission of violent or non-violent crime. As an aside akin to Agnew's theory, the unique older age and varied ethnic distribution of this particular dataset also allows for a quantitative exploration of Katherine Newman's (1993) qualitative hypothesis, which holds that one's birth place in the baby boomer generation (1946 to 1964) is a life perception strain in and of itself.

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Updated 05/20/2006