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This version of strain theory was put forward as an explanation for adolescent delinquency. It was argued that ‘the blockage of pain-avoidance behaviour frustrates the adolescent and may lead to illegal escape attempts or anger-based delinquency (Agnew, 1985: 154). According to this approach, delinquency is derived from the frustration of being unable to adopt pain-avoidance behaviour to escape from a wide range of aversive situations (which may include school, family or neighbourhood), even if this situation does not directly affect the individual’s ability to attain intermediate or long-term goals.

An individual prevented from obtaining society’s success goals by legitimate means might attempt to achieve them by abandoning the ‘rules of the game’ and attain them by criminal methods. Retreatism. In this case an individual abandoned both the culturally accepted goals of society and the conventional means of securing them. Behaviour that embraced the use of drugs or alcohol might be taken up by a person who adopted a negative form of deviancy and effectively decided to ‘opt out’ of society. Rebellion.

This aspect of new deviancy had initially been put forward by Edwin Lemert (1951). Individuals who were labelled became stigmatised and a self-fulfilling prophecy arose whereby they might seek to live up to their designation by engaging in activities which they would have otherwise avoided. In this sense, therefore, ‘social control leads to deviance’ (Lemert, 1967: v). This was opposed to the conventional assertion that crime or deviancy led to social control. QXD 30 19/4/06 3:19 pm Page 30 Criminal Justice Crime as a social construct Interactionism underpinned the view that crime (and also deviance) were social constructions.

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