A General Strain Theory of Racial Differences in Criminal Offending

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2008

17 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2015

See all articles by Joanne M. Kaufman

Joanne M. Kaufman

State University of New York (SUNY) - Sociology

Cesar J. Rebellon

University of New Hampshire

Sherod Thaxton

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Robert Agnew

Emory University

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

Since 1992, General Strain Theory (GST) has earned strong empirical support and has been applied to several key correlates of crime (e.g., age, sex, community), but researchers have yet to fully consider how GST may aid in explaining racial differences in offending. While most explanations focus on macro level and macro-micro control processes, we argue that GST complements these explanations by highlighting the emotional and motivational social psychological processes that underlie criminal behavior, thereby filling an important theoretical gap. In particular, we argue that African-Americans are likely to experience more and qualitatively unique types of strain compared to Whites, and that these strains in turn lead to higher levels of negative emotions among African-Americans. Further, we argue that the unique social conditions in which many African-Americans live may disproportionately lead them to cope with strain and negative emotions through crime. We believe these theoretical insights can guide future empirical research to create a fuller understanding of racial differences in offending.

Keywords: criminology, juvenile delinquency

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Joanne M. and Rebellon, Cesar J. and Thaxton, Sherod and Agnew, Robert, A General Strain Theory of Racial Differences in Criminal Offending (2008). Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2679179

Joanne M. Kaufman

State University of New York (SUNY) - Sociology ( email )

Albany, NY 12222
United States

Cesar J. Rebellon

University of New Hampshire ( email )

15 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
United States

Sherod Thaxton (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.ucla.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/sherod-thaxton

Robert Agnew

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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