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The Relationship between Involvement, Strain, and the Criminality of Fathers of At-Risk Children
McFarren, Matthew Alan
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Robert Agnew proposed a new version of strain theory in 1992. In this article, Agnew argued that strain is not only a result of the blocked opportunity to achieve goals as Merton had argued, but that strain also results from the removal of positively valued stimuli and the presence of negative stimuli. With such a theory, criminologist had focused on how this may explain juvenile delinquency. Yet very little attention was given to how this may affect adult criminality as well. Similarly, Hirschi (1969) presented social control theory as a means of describing the causes of juvenile delinquency. While these theories have been repeatedly tested and supported with respect to delinquency, they have rarely been used to describe adult criminality. This paper intends to compare the utility of Agnewâ s general strain theory and Hirschiâ s control theory in explaining the criminal behavior of fathers. For general strain theory, it is predicted that fathers who have either high contact and low relationship quality or who have low contact and high relationship quality will have significantly higher criminal activity than those who have high contact and relationship quality or low contact and relationship quality. Conversely, social control theory predicts that fathers who have low relationship qualities with their children are more likely to commit criminal acts. This paper aims to ascertain which of these hypotheses is more accurate.
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