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Strain and Violence: Testing a General Strain Theory Model of Community Violence

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2003 Pages: 511-521
Date Published
November 2003
11 pages

This study examined the effects of neighborhood characteristics on measures of strain and strain theory’s subsequent effects on violence.


In the last two decades there has been a significant renewed interest in explaining variations in crime rates among neighborhoods. There have been attempts to develop General Strain Theory (GST) into a community model to explain how variation in levels of neighborhood strain can lead to increased neighborhood crime rates. This study, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, examined some of the central ideas of the macro level general strain theory (MST) using data from 66 neighborhoods in a southern State and beginning with an analysis of the effects of neighborhood characteristics on strain and informal social control. In addition, the analysis examined the effects of strain on violence, controlling for the level of informal social control, and the extent to which strain and informal social control mediated the effects of neighborhood characteristics on violence. This was one of the first studies to examine MST within the contexts of actual neighborhoods. The findings suggest that neighborhood disadvantage and stability significantly affect neighborhood levels of strain. Strain significantly affects levels of violence. When both strain and informal social control measures were added to the model simultaneously, the effects of informal social control fell to just below the significance level, while strain maintained its significant effect on violence. Tables and references

Date Published: November 1, 2003