Title

Strain and Opportunity Structures

Keywords

strain theory, stress, delinquency, opportunity structures, multilevel

Abstract

Traditional strain theory received substantial empirical attention for a prolonged period of time, but it currently occupies a marginal position in criminology. Efforts to revitalize and elaborate it have occurred under the rubric of Agnew's general strain theory. These theories share a focus on how contextual factors, in particular what are commonly referred to as opportunity structures, affect the relationship between stresses and strains and delinquency. Using national-level data, this study considers empirically the impact of several illegitimate opportunity structures conceptualized at the school-level on the association between strain, stressful life events, delinquency, and self-concept. The results indicate that both stress and strain affect changes in delinquency and self-concept over time. Yet there is little evidence that these relationships are conditioned by access to illegitimate opportunity. These results suggest that strain and stress affect delinquency uniformly across a variety of illegitimate opportunity structures.

Original Publication Citation

Hoffmann, John P., and Timothy O. Ireland. 2004. “Strain and Opportunity Structures.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 20(3): 263-292.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2004-9

Publisher

Journal of Quantitative Criminology

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Share

COinS