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General Strain Amid Restoration: An examination of Instrumental and Expressive Offenses

Rice, Stephen K.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Dissertation. Graduate School of the University of Florida.

“Agnew’s general strain theory assumes an interaction among three distinct forms of social psychological strain, negative affect, and deviant or delinquent adaptations. Extant research suggests that the cognitive processes leading to deviant or delinquent adaptations differ markedly based on offense type, personal characteristics, and indirect processes such as delinquent peer exposure and injustice judgments. The present analysis extends previous work by examining general strain theory from an experimental, sociolegal perspective. More specifically, the study looks at whether standard courtoom processing or emotions-based reintegrative shaming conferences moderate strain, negative affect, and prospective criminality for instrumental (juvenile property offending with personal victim; juvenile shoplifting) and expressive (violent) offenses. The impact of a variety of conditioners to include social support, self-efficacy, individual coping strategies, and external attribution is explored, as are implications for future research and public policy. Findings indicate that individual forms of strain differ considerably in their impact on inward- and outward-oriented affect (depression and anger, respectively) and in their relationship to instrumental and expressive offenses. Findings also indicate important trends related to the cumulative effect of strains, of strain nonlinearity, and of the overarching importance of injustice judgments. Finally, the present analyses lend support to many, but not all, of the core precepts of restorative justice theory. In short, despite the criminal justice system’s best intentions, many offenders are being treated in a manner that most predisposes them to future criminality.” (Excerpt)


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