Summary Of Robert Agnew's General Strain Theory

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Crime and criminal behaviors are very prevalent in popular culture in today’s society. Many movies include criminal aspects, which can be analyzed to see the theories of criminal behaviors in action. The film that will be reviewed in this paper is Chicago (2002). Chicago follows the story of Roxie Hart, including the murder of her boyfriend and her time in jail and on trial. The theory that best relates to this movie is Agnew’s General Strain Theory. I will be describing in detail the general strain theory, giving a brief summary of the film and relating the theory to the crimes showcased in the movie. I also will be talking about the other behaviors that are seen in the movie and their corresponding theory. Robert Agnew’s General Strain…show more content…
Each one of the murder stories were expressive crimes and included signs of strain that caused the negative emotions and led to the crimes. For Roxie’s crime, she failed to achieve her goal of being famous. It was an obtainable goal, because she had been a chorus member before and she was very close to getting a shot at it. When she found out that she had failed her goal, she got very frustrated and angry that her shot was not given to her. She then in the moment could not cope with her emotions and she took it out on the man who wronged her, and shot him. For one of the six merry murderesses, Ezekiel Young, her crime stemmed from the removal of a positively valued stimuli. Her boyfriend who she lived with for a while told her that he was single when they first started dating. He lied, he was married to six other women. She became very angry and hurt that this man betrayed her. Again, unable to cope with the negative emotions in the moment, she ended up poisoning him. Another one of the women had the presence of a negative stimuli, her husband was not sympathetic of her and her emotions. She had a really tough day and was very irritated when she got home. She tried to talk to her man about it and he was not responding the way that she needed him to. Instead he sat on the couch and drank a beer and chewed his gum… no not chewed popped. She was high strung already…show more content…
This is because all of the women whose crimes we heard about had the strain in their life and had very negative emotions at the time of the crime being committed. Each of the women had either the presence of negatively valued stimuli, the removal of positively valued stimuli or failure to achieve their goals. The murders were not the only crimes in the film, other motives and behaviors that were present in the film included the scheming of the court system. The attorney had them lie and make up stories to gain sympathy from the jury. Also Mama was working with the women in the jail, allowing them to bribe her to get special treatment or items. These behaviors are unethical and criminal, but they are not explained by the general strain theory. They cannot be described, because there was no evidence of strain or negative emotions in the attorney or Mama’s life, they just committed crime. Perhaps it was because it was because it was fun or maybe it was for the monetary gain that they would get from it. A theory that could describe these behaviors could be the rational choice theory. This could describe it, because the rational choice theory discussed that people are inherently evil. This is important to note, because that means that people just commit crimes because they can. Criminal activity provides people with a rush and it is fun. It is also an easy way to get the instant
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