Justifying Terrorism: Agnew’s General Strain Theory and the Earth Liberation Front

by Griselda J. Martinez
Criminology / Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

“The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is an international underground movement consisting of autonomous groups of people who carry out direct action in defense of the planet” (“Earth Liberation Front,” n.d.). Formed in 1992, this group has been responsible for many incidents of property destruction, primarily targeting laboratories, timber factories, and genetic research facilities. Using Agnew’s General Strain Theory, this project attempts to explain the mindset and actions of ELF members. By applying this theoretical framework to the group, we attempt to provide insight to how frustration can turn into radical, and even violent, behavior. This allows us to begin to understand how group members perceive domestic terrorism as an “effective” method in their attempt to achieve their goals.