The Social Strain Theory is a concept that explains how social structures and strains can lead to deviant behavior. This theory suggests that individuals who experience social strain are more likely to engage in criminal or deviant activities when compared to those who do not face such strains.

What is Social Strain Theory?

According to the Social Strain Theory, individuals who experience societal pressures and strains are more likely to engage in deviant behavior. These pressures can come in different forms, such as economic deprivation, lack of education or employment opportunities, discrimination, and so on. When an individual faces such strains, they may feel frustration, anger, and resentment towards society for not providing them with equal opportunities.

Types of Strains:

There are different types of strains that individuals may face:

Strain as a Cause of Deviance:

The Social Strain Theory suggests that individuals who face strain are more likely to engage in deviant behavior as a coping mechanism. When faced with societal pressures and difficulties, some individuals may turn to illegal activities as a way of relieving stress or making up for their perceived lack of resources.

Moreover, the theory states that when an individual experiences social strain, they may develop a negative attitude towards society and its institutions. This negative attitude can lead to feelings of alienation and frustration, which may eventually result in criminal or deviant behavior.


In conclusion, the Social Strain Theory provides an insightful perspective on deviant behavior. It highlights the importance of addressing societal pressures and strains as a means of reducing criminal activity. By addressing these strains and providing individuals with equal opportunities to succeed, we can create a more just and equitable society that is less prone to deviant behavior.