Social Control Theory -Slides and data in this outline are from Adler, Mueller, and Laufer (2007, 2013, 2018, & 2022); Siegel (2015); and modified by Manning (2007, 2013, 2015, 2018, & 2022).
T H E T H E O RY FAVO R E D BY M O S T C R I M I N O LO G I S T
Social Control theory Social control theory focuses on techniques and strategies that regulate human behavior leading to conformity or obedience to society’s rules.
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Influences (family & school, religious beliefs, moral values, friends, & beliefs regarding government).
Theories of Social Control MACROSOCIOLOGICAL STUDIES
Explore the legal system, particularly law environment
Social & economic government directives
Focus on informal systems
Data based on individuals
Examines one’s internal control system
Travis Hirschi Social Bonds
Attachment: to parents, teachers, peers
Commitment: to conventional lines of action ◦ Educational goals
Involvement: with activities that promote the interests of society ◦ Homework or after school programs
Beliefs: acceptance of societies values ◦ Belief that law are fair
Hirshi’s Hypothesis was that Stronger the bonds = less delinquency & weaker bonds = increased risk of delinquency
Scientific Research shows support: ◦ Hirshi conducted a self-report survey on 4,077 high school students in CA.
Critics of Hirschi’s Bond theory Criticism of social bond theory
◦ The influence of friendship ◦ Drug abuser stick together
◦ Failure to achieve ◦ Failing in school = few legitimate means
◦ Deviant parents and peers ◦ Gang member also create social bonds.
◦ Mistaken causal order ◦ Deviance may brake parental bonds
◦ Hirschi also counters the critics ◦ These bonds are weak and only created out of need – drug abuser will turn on one another.
Gresham Sykes and David Matza Delinquency and Drift Drift
◦ Most deviants also hold value in social norms.
◦ Must use tech. of neutralization to drift in and out of criminality.
Observation of neutralization: ◦ Criminals sometimes voice guilt over their illegal acts.
◦ Offenders frequently respect and admire honest, law abiding people (entertainers, & preachers).
◦ Criminal define whom they can victimize
◦ Criminals are not immune to the demands of conformity. ◦ They go to school, family functions and church.
Gresham Sykes and David Matza Delinquency and Drift
Techniques of neutralization: ◦ Denial of Responsibility
◦ Not my fault – accident
◦ Denial of Injury – No one hurt
◦ Denial of the Victim – Victim is no saint
◦ Condemnation of the Condemner ◦ Everyone has done worse things
◦ Appeal to Higher Loyalties ◦ Couldn’t let my friends down
◦ Studies show most adolescents know when they deviate ◦ So they use neutralization techniques to justify their behavior.
◦ Critics: Many adolescents have no empathy. ◦ Crimes are most often intraracial and within familiar areas.
Albert J. Reiss Delinquency is the result of
◦ A failure to internalize socially accepted and prescribed norms of behavior.
◦ A breakdown of internal controls
◦ A lack of social rules that prescribe behavior in the family, school, and other important social groups.
Social Disorganization and crime
What if you grew up in the slums with your mother selling heroin out of your apartment ◦ Where would you be?
While slums create more crime some individuals find a greater stake in conformity and embrace laws.
Walter Reckless Containment Theory
Containment Theory assumes that for every individual there exists a containing external structure and a protective internal structure, both of which provide defense, protection, or insulation against delinquency.
External ◦ Family, laws, and peers
Internal ◦ Self concept, ego and conscience
Walter Reckless Outer Containment
A role that provides a guide for a persons activities (i.e. Teacher/student).
A set of reasonable limits and responsibilities (i.e. Roles defined).
An opportunity for the individual to achieve status. ◦ Promotion or graduation
Cohesion among members of a group including joint activity and togetherness. ◦ Integrated and inclusive
A set of belongingness (i.e. identification with the group).
Identification with one or more persons within the group.
Provisions for supplying alternative ways and means of satisfaction when one or more ways are closed.
Walter Reckless Inner Containment
A good self-concept
A strong ego
A well developed conscience
A high frustration tolerance
A high sense of responsibility
General Theory of Crime Travis Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson
Designed General Theory to explain and individuals propensity to commit crime.
Assumes that the offenders have little control over their own behavior and desires.
Crime is a function of poor self-control ◦ Poor child rearing, poor attachments
◦ People with low self control may drink too much, smoke and have unwanted pregnancies.
Theory Informed Policy Delinquency prevention through teaching values.
Family – role model study habits.
School –bond youth to conventional systems
Neighborhood – federally funded programs can reduce crime ◦ Examples: crisis intervention centers,
◦ and mediation between schools and youth, youth and police and youth and gang intervention.