Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

Richard Dembo

Co-Major Professor

Christine S. Sellers

Keywords

cross cultural comparison, General strain theory, Juvenile delinquency

Abstract

General strain theory (GST) (Agnew, 1992, 2001, 2006a) is an established criminological theory. Although the theory has been examined by many and enjoys empirical support, some limitations of previous studies need to be addressed. First, previous studies have not incorporated all major types of strain in their models; hence, the effects of these strains on delinquency are unclear. Second, many previous studies did not include negative emotions and even negative emotions other than anger. Finally, and the most serious limitation, many previous studies rely heavily on samples from Western countries, mostly the U.S.; thus, possible cultural influences are ignored. Although a few studies have moved forward by using subjects from Asia (e.g., China, Korea), these studies only provide empirical results regarding whether GST is applicable in other cultures. The lack of comparable samples from both Western and Eastern cultures hinders direct comparison.

The present research contributes to the theoretical body of literature through addressing the aforementioned three limitations. First, the study measures the major types of strain that are mentioned by Agnew. Second, anger and depression are included in the analysis, which addresses not only the limitations of previous studies but also the suggestions of Agnew (2006a). In addition, the measure of anger is situational and consistent with GST. Thirdly, the present study uses the same research instrument to collect comparable samples from both the U.S. (Western country) and Taiwan (Eastern country). This enables a direct comparison across cultural boundaries, and the similarities and differences can be empirically established.

Whereas the core propositions of GST are supported, the study finds some negative results. In addition, most of the GST processes are found to be similar between the U.S. and Taiwanese juveniles. However, some differences were also discovered. Explanation of these similarities and differences from their cultural perspectives are offered. Furthermore, the results from this study also raise some challenges to GST and point out that revisions of GST may be required.

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