Explore BrainMass

Robert Agnew's and Robert Merton's Strain Theories

Merton proposed that strain is caused by a disjuncture between means and goals. In this case, the goal that was causing Eric a great deal of frustration was his inability to be accepted by the Marine Corps. This was his main goal in life, and he had been rejected.In response to strain, Merton proposed that people can adopt any one of five modes of adaptation:


"The general strain theory developed by Robert Agnew introduced a new perspective on Robert Merton's strain theory." Do you agree with this statement? How is the general strain theory different from Merton's strain theory?

Which one of the two theories—Merton's or Agnew's—is more appropriate to explain modern juvenile delinquency, and why? Assuming that you are a juvenile treatment program manager, how can you apply these theories to lower delinquency rates?

One of the opinions concerning Merton's deviant behavior theory is: "It is very unfortunate that Merton's deviant behavior theory is unjustly criticized and misinterpreted." To what extent do you agree/disagree with this statement? Why?

Use references and cite sources.

Solution Preview

As you briefly react to the statement, "The general strain theory developed by Robert Agnew introduced a new perspective on Robert Merton's strain theory, I tend to agree since I deem it as a complete renovation of Merton's Strain Theory. I see it as quite different from Merton
Instead of a theory of strain, some critics regard it actually as a theory of stress, as one article asserted:

Agnew, R. (2012). Reflection on "A Revised Strain Theory of Delinquency". Social Forces, 91(1), 33-38.

The article suggests that he "revised strain theory by arguing that crime is caused not so much by the inability to achieve positively valued goals, but by the inability to escape from painful or aversive conditions. "There is little that juveniles can do to legally escape if they are ...

Solution Summary

Robert Agnew and Robert Merton's strain theories are briefly examined in 300 words of notes and references.