Strain theory research papers report that strain theory is somewhat similar to social disorganization theory in that the root of crime is seen as the environment or social class in which individuals reside. In American society, people strive for wealth, education, power, personal possessions, and other comforts of life. Realistically, lower class individuals are unable to obtain these resources through conventional, licit means. The feeling of frustration associated with this lack of efficacy is referred to as strain. As a result of their frustration, lower class residents may choose to commit crimes to achieve gain, thus clearly linking poverty and crime.
Robert Merton (1938) is best known for his work concerning deviance, which is a violation of conformity to the norms of the society. In Merton’s Social Strain Theory research papers, writers present five modes of adapting to strain caused by the restricted access to socially approved goals and means. He did not mean that everyone who is denied access to society's goals became deviant. Instead the response or modes of adaptation depend on the individual's attitudes toward cultural goals and the institutional means to attain them. Another aspect of Merton’s strain theory rests in the glorification of violence and the striving for the glamorous lifestyle that wealth and the association with organized crime constitutes. While Merton contends that strain generally does not provoke such extreme behavior, but instead organized crime and the attention given to public acts of violence can be an invitation to others who are experiencing the effects of strain.