Delinquent Friends and Reactions to Strain: An Examination of Direct and Indirect Pathways

By Spohn, Ryan E. | Western Criminology Review, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Delinquent Friends and Reactions to Strain: An Examination of Direct and Indirect Pathways


Spohn, Ryan E., Western Criminology Review


Abstract: Strain theorists acknowledge that only some strained individuals become involved in delinquency. Thus, a necessary research objective is to determine the conditions under which strain results in deviant adaptations. The goal of this research is to examine the conditioning effects of exposure to delinquent friends/peer pressure on the relationship between strain and delinquency. Whereas Agnew (1992, 2001, 2006) argues that a criminogenic environment will increase the effect of strain on delinquency, Warr's (1993) research indicates that other correlates of delinquency lose their influence when adolescents are enmeshed in a network of delinquent peers. In testing these competing hypotheses, the current research finds a preponderance of evidence supporting the latter position. Peer pressure and having friends that commit delinquency tend to reduce the direct effect of strain on serious delinquency, as well as reducing the indirect effects of strain on negative emotions and negative emotions on serious delinquency.

Keywords: abuse, anomie theory, delinquent friends, and general strain theory.

INTRODUCTION

Exposure to delinquent friends and peers is consistently found to be a strong correlate of adolescent delinquency (see Warr 2002 for a review). Moreover, the impact of delinquent peers and friends, concepts generally associated with differential association, social learning, and subculture theories of delinquency, has for decades served as an issue of contention within the field of criminology in debates on the theoretical supremacy on control theories.1 However, simply examining the additive effect of central variables from various theories of delinquency, such as peer delinquency, represents an overly simplistic attempt to model a reality that is rarely additive in form. Rather, the social context and causes of juvenile delinquency are almost certain to involve the interaction of variables from multiple sociological theories of delinquency. Consequently, it is likely that delinquent friends and peers, in addition to their strong main effect on delinquency, also exert a conditioning effect within the context of criminological theories which do not include these measures as primary theoretical variables (for example, see Agnew 1991).

The current research represents an effort to increase our theoretical knowledge of the conditioning role of delinquent friends within the framework of Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST). In his theoretical development and empirical tests of GST, Agnew (2001, 2006) suggests that the social environment of adolescents in general will influence whether they react to strain in a delinquent fashion. Regarding delinquent peers and friends specifically, he predicts that associations with criminal others will increase the likelihood of coping with strain in a criminal fashion, primarily because delinquent peers/friends are empirically associated with beliefs favorable to crime "that define crime as a desirable, justifiable, or excusable response to strains" (Agnew 2006:101).

A number of studies empirically examine the conditioning effect of delinquent peers on the relationship between strain and delinquency, but results are mixed and theoretical conclusions remain elusive. Moreover, although Agnew (1992) argues that strain has a substantial indirect effect on delinquency via its impact on negative emotions, empirical and theoretical attention is sorely lacking regarding the conditioning effect of delinquent peers on these indirect pathways. Consequently, a primary goal of the current research project is to more thoroughly and explicitly develop our theoretical understanding of the conditioning effect of peer deviance on the direct and indirect effects of strain on serious delinquency. Towards this goal, theoretically derived hypotheses are empirically tested on a nationally representative sample of adolescents.

GENERAL STRAIN THEORY

Within the anomie/strain perspective made popular by Merton (1938), strain is viewed as the blockage of goal-seeking behavior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Delinquent Friends and Reactions to Strain: An Examination of Direct and Indirect Pathways
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.