Social Control Theory

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Social Control Theory

Discuss the different elements of Travis Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory. Be sure to identify factors that affect each of these “Key Bonds” (Attachment, Commitment, Involvement, and Belief). For example, for Attachment, describe the importance of family and social group members who transmit either anti/pro-social behavior. Also explain how those bonds improve either resistance or acceptance of law violating behavior.

Hirchi assumes that all individuals are potential law violators, but most are kept under control because they fear that illegal behavior will damage their relationships with friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and employers. He stated that the social bond is divided into four categories attachment, commitment, belief, and involvement. Attachment is the sensitivity to and interest in others and is often found in a family unit. For example, parents act as role models by teaching a child what is right/wrong or socially acceptable within society. “Commitment involves the time, energy, and effort expended in conventional actions such as getting an education and saving money for the future.” (Criminology, pg. 181) It can be directly correlated to conformity. Individuals obey the rules simply because they are afraid of facing the consequences. Involvement in conventional activities such as sports, school, or clubs does not leave time for criminal activities. “Hirschi believes that involvement in school, recreation, and family insulates people from the lure of criminal behavior. Idleness, on the other hand, enhances that lure.” (Criminology, pg. 181) The last element is belief, which can be described as the moral validity of the social-value system. People that are rule bound or committed to a belief system are less likely to commit a crime.

Siegel, Larry J. Criminology: The Core, 5th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2015. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

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