SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Murphy, D. S., & Robinson, M. B. (2008). The Maximizer: Clarifying Merton’s theories of anomie and strain. Theoretical Criminology, 12, 501–521.

Abstract: Robert Merton’s (1957) theories of anomie and strain are among the most widely examined theories of criminality. Messner and Rosenfeld’s (1994) theory of institutional anomie built on Merton’s conception of anomie, delineating how specific institutions lead to conditions of anomie and criminality. Cloward and Ohlin’s (1961) theory of differential opportunity built upon Merton’s strain theory, underscoring the fact that those involved in illegitimate means of opportunity require a set of learned skills as do those involved in legitimate means. In this tradition, the present paper further expands Merton's theories of anomie and strain, suggesting that Merton’s categories of conformist and innovator are not mutually exclusive. In fact, some individuals combine both legitimate and illegitimate means of opportunity in pursuit of the American Dream. The Maximizer, the authors suggest, merges elements of both the conformist and the innovator (i.e. legitimate and illegitimate means). The present paper explores the justification for merging legitimate and illegitimate means of opportunity in pursuit of the American Dream.

Journal Article 2: Agnew, R. (2010). A general strain theory of terrorism. Theoretical Criminology, 14, 131–153.

Abstract: This article reviews and critiques current strain-based explanations of terrorism, then draws on general strain theory and the terrorism research to present a general strain theory of terrorism. This theory states that terrorism is most likely when people experience ‘collective strains’ that are: (a) high in magnitude, with civilians affected; (b) unjust; and (c) inflicted by significantly more powerful others, including ‘complicit’ civilians, with whom members of the strained collectivity have weak ties. These collective strains increase the likelihood of terrorism for several reasons, but they do not lead to terrorism in all cases—a range of factors condition their effect.

Journal Article 3: Jones, C. A., & Greene, H. T. (2015). Race discrimination, racial socialization, and offending trends among African American college students: A test of the theory of African American offending. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 32, 60–77.

Abstract: The present study tests several key concepts of the theory of African American offending. It uses intra-racial correlational and regression analyses to explore the relationship between perceptions of discrimination, racial socialization (RS), and offending among African American college students. The findings indicate perceptions of discrimination have a significant impact on offending. Students who were more likely to perceive situations as discriminatory were more likely to report offending behavior. Racial Socialization did not buffer the deleterious impact of discrimination and reduce offending. Directions for future research also are discussed.