Richard Cloward and “Strain Theory.”

strain theory - Cloward - red

(Richard Cloward, 1926 – 2001).

In sociology and criminology, strain theory states that social structures within society may pressure citizens to commit crime.


(In my humble opinion), one has to truly love theorists, as inserting the words (if) and (may), instantly absolves them from any responsibility, and/or, being wrong.


Following on the work of Émile Durkheim, Strain Theories have been advanced by Robert King Merton (1957), Albert K. Cohen (1955), Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin (1960), Neil Smelser (1963), Robert Agnew (1992), and Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld (1994).

Strain may be either:

Structural: this refers to the processes at the societal level which filter down and affect how the individual perceives his or her needs, i.e. if particular social structures are inherently inadequate or there is inadequate regulation, this may change the individual’s perceptions as to means and opportunities; or…

Individual: this refers to the frictions and pains experienced by an individual as he or she looks for ways to satisfy his or her needs, i.e. if the goals of a society become significant to an individual, actually achieving them may become more important than the means adopted.

Bull Shit - graphic 1

But I promised, so here goes…

The strain theory of suicide postulates that suicide is usually preceded by psychological strains.

help - I can't cope

A psychological strain is formed by at least two stresses or pressures, pushing the individual to different directions.


Just out of curiosity, would those different directions be; “North and South,” or “East and West?”

Because, (in my considered opinion), a man or a woman that was raised by proper loving parents know where they stand.


A strain can be a consequence of any of the four conflicts: differential values, discrepancy between aspiration and reality, relative deprivation, and lack of coping skills for a crisis.


Once again, (in no uncertain terms), if and when America decides to return to the family and family values, there will be no place for psychologists and theorists.

Guessing games should be left to television Quiz Shows!


Psychological strains in the form of all the four sources have been tested and supported with a sample of suicide notes in the United States and in rural China through psychological autopsy studies.


psychological autopsy 1


The strain theory of suicide forms a challenge to the psychiatric model popular among the suicidologists in the world.


Sorry, I simply cannot resist, where the hell does someone go to school to become a suicidologist?

suicidologist - graphic 1

…and how do you explain it to your parents?


The strain theory of suicide is based on the theoretical frameworks established by previous sociologists, e.g. Durkheim (1951), Merton (1957), and Agnew (2006), and preliminary tests have been accomplished with some American (Zhang and Lester 2008) and Chinese data (Zhang 2010; Zhang, Dong, Delprino, and Zhou 2009; Zhang, Wieczorek, Conwell, and Tu 2011).

There could be four types of strain that precede a suicide, and each can be derived from specific sources. A source of strain must consist of two, and at least two, conflicting social facts. If the two social facts are non-contradictory, there would be no strain.

Strain Source 1: Differential Values..

When two conflicting social values or beliefs are competing in an individual’s daily life, the person experiences value strain.

The two conflicting social facts are competing personal beliefs internalized in the person’s value system. A cult member may experience strain if the mainstream culture and the cult religion are both considered important in the cult member’s daily life.

Other examples include the second generation of immigrants in the United States who have to abide by the ethnic culture rules enforced in the family while simultaneously adapting to the American culture with peers and school.

In China, rural young women appreciate gender …

egalitarianism - graphic

According to Webster:“e·gal·i·tar·i·an,” Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people.


..advocated by the communist government, but at the same time, they are trapped in cultural sexual discrimination as traditionally cultivated by Confucianism. Another example that might be found in developing countries is the differential values of traditional collectivism and modern individualism.

When the two conflicting values are taken as equally important in a person’s daily life, the person experiences great strain. When one value is more important than the other, there is then little or no strain.

Strain Source 2: Reality vs. Aspiration..

If there is a discrepancy between an individual’s aspiration or a high goal and the reality the person has to live with, the person experiences aspiration strain.

The two conflicting social facts are one’s splendid ideal or goal and the reality that may prevent one from achieving it.

An individual living in the United States expects to be very rich or at least moderately successful as other Americans do, but in reality the means to achieve the goal is not equally available to the person because of his/her social status or any other reasons.


merry-go-round 1

Sounds to me like psychologists spend an awful lot of time on a merry-go-round.


Aspirations or goals can be a college a person aims to get in, an ideal girl a boy wants to marry, and a political cause a person strives for, etc.

If the reality is far from the aspiration, the person experiences strain.

Another example might be from rural China. A young woman aspiring to equal opportunity and equal treatment may have to live within the traditional and Confucian reality, exemplified by her family and village, which interferes with that goal.

The larger the discrepancy between aspiration and reality, the greater the strain will be.

Strain Source 3: Relative Deprivation..

In the situation where an extremely economically poor individual realizes some other people of the same or similar background are leading a much better life, the person experiences deprivation strain.


Sorry, but I take exception to anyone, psychologist, and/or, psychiatrist who believes that an individual is going to experience deprivation, and/or, (feel deprived), because he or she doesn’t have everything his or her neighbor has.

In my experience, (derived from life), not a book, people who have less (more often than not), have less, simply because they understand that they don’t need more.

Myself as an example; I have contributed to my own support since I was six years old. Understanding what is needed to get through a day is an amazing reward.

I own one pair shoes, one pair of slippers, one pair jeans and five pairs of pajamas.

Of course when I was younger and in the workforce, I owned two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shoes because it suited my needs. I prepare my own food because I know what I like and I wash my own clothes because it’s my responsibility.

It is also (my considered opinion) that folks that scam their way to millions or billions, will indeed leave this world with a smile on their face, they just won’t understand why.


The two conflicting social facts are one’s own miserable life and the perceived richness of comparative others. A person living in absolute poverty, where there is no comparison with others does not necessarily feel bad, miserable, or deprived.

On the other hand, if the same poor person understands that other people like him/her live a better life, he or she may feel deprived because of these circumstances.

In an economically polarized society where the rich and poor live geographically close to each other, people are more likely to feel this discrepancy.

In today’s rural China, television, newspaper, magazines, and radio have brought home to rural youths how relatively affluent urban life is. Additionally, those young people who went to work in the cities (dagong) and returned to the village during holidays with luxury materials and exciting stories make the relative deprivation even more realistically perceived.

Increased perception of deprivation indicates relatively greater strain for individuals.

Strain Source 4: Deficient Coping..

Facing a life crisis, some individuals are not able to cope with it, and then they experience coping strain. The two conflicting social facts are life crisis and the appropriate coping capacity.


My question here is; “What is an appropriate coping skill?”

According to Webster:“ap·pro·pri·ate,” adj.Suitable for a particular person, condition, occasion, or place; fitting.

Once again, as it has been my life experience (to learn) what might be an appropriate coping skill for one individual, would not necessarily be an appropriate coping skill for another.


All people who have experienced crises do not experience strain. A crisis may be a pressure or stress in daily life, and those individuals who are not able to cope with the crisis have strain. Such crises as loss of money, loss of status, loss of face, divorce, death of a loved one, etc. may lead to serious strain in the person who does not know how to cope with these negative life events.

A high school boy who is constantly bullied and ridiculed by peers may experience great strain if he does not know how to deal with the situation.

Likewise, a Chinese rural young woman who is frequently wronged by her mother-in-law may have strain if she is not psychologically ready to cope with a different situation by seeking support from other family members and the village.


If a child is raised in a free society by a decent God-fearing loving father and a decent God-fearing loving mother, there would be no need for that child as an adult to need support from other family members, and they (sure as hell) wouldn’t need support from a village.

Unless of course, you’re a flaming “progressive liberal” that subscribes to Hillary Clinton’s idiocy?


The less capable the coping skills, the stronger the strain when a crisis takes place.


girl from China 2

At this point, (in conclusion), I’m compelled to ask; “Am I the only one picking up on Richard Cloward’s fascination with; (Chinese “rural” young women)?

Truth forges understanding, I’ll be back tomorrow

Crusader Rabbit Logo - COLOR 1a

Crusader Rabbit…

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