I recently participated in a joint podcast organized by Sage Publications with fellow social scientists Robert Agnew, Carter Hay, and Paul Mazerolle to chat about the relationship between the sociological concept of strain, traditional bullying, and cyberbullying.
According to Agnew’s General Strain Theory, strain has three sources: (1) the failure to achieve positively-valued goals; (2) the loss of positive-valued stimuli; and (3) the presentation of negative stimuli. He argues that experiencing strain first produces negative emotions such as anger and frustration, and that crime (or, in terms of what we are studying in this research – traditional bullying and cyberbullying) are adaptations or coping mechanisms that strained individuals may use in response to those negative emotions.
The podcast is worth a listen if you’re interested in learning more about empirical research in this area. Near the end of the podcast, I briefly discuss a recent manuscript co-written with Justin that is forthcoming in the academic journal Youth and Society (please email us if you would like a copy). That piece found that middle schoolers who reported experiencing strain were significantly more likely to have engaged in bullying and cyberbullying, that bullying seemed to be related to feelings of negative emotions, and that anger and frustration did not appear to mediate the relationship between strain and either traditional bullying or cyberbullying (which is contrary to Agnew’s Theory). If you have any questions or thoughts about this, let me know.