Sociology Index


Power-control theory is an explanation for differences in criminality building on the idea that social control is social stratification within the family. According to power-control theory, traditionally, girls have been subjected to more social control than have boys. There is a link between structural patriarchy and parental style, postulated in the original power-control theory in East Berlin.

According to power-control theory, mothers have traditionally been responsible for exercising social control and their increasing involvement in the work place may enhance their power within the home, decrease their social control activity and affect the willingness of girls to violate norms. Single mothers, regardless of their occupational power, control and socialize their sons and daughters similarly and effect a small delinquency gender gap.

Power-control theory states that relative power in the workplace conditions patterns of parental control of children in two-parent families, resulting in gender differences in rates of nonserious delinquency. A Theoretical and Empirical Assessment of Power-Control Theory and Single-Mother Families - MICHAEL J. LEIBER, MARY ELLEN ELLYSON WACKER. University of Iowa 
In the present study, the authors applied the traditional power-control theory and an extended power-control theory to two data sets on single-mother families to empirically test these assertions. As predicted by power-control theory, they found no gender difference in delinquency once the relevant variables were controlled for in the analysis.

Race, Gender, Single-Mother Households, and Delinquency - A Further Test of Power-Control Theory - Kristin Y. Mack, Michael J. Leiber, University of Northern Iowa 
Using power-control theory as the theoretical framework, the present study examines the gender gap in delinquency for White and African American youth from single-mother households. The research is driven by the need to focus more attention on understanding how delinquency theories apply across different racial groups. Results from both bivariate analysis and multivariate analysis indicate that, with few exceptions, there are significant gender gaps in delinquency for both White and African American youth. Therefore, it appears that gender, more than race, influences nonserious delinquency among youth from single-mother families. These findings suggest that further development of power-control theory may lie in rethinking the classification of single-mother households as inherently balanced, or egalitarian, in nature.

Juvenile Delinquency and Gender Revisited - The Family and Power-Control Theory Reconceived - Andreas Hadjar, University of Bern, Switzerland - Dirk Baier, Criminological Research Institute, Hannover, Germany - Klaus Boehnke, International University Bremen, Germany - John Hagan, Northwestern University, USA 
Cross-culture evidence on the gender gap in delinquency is presented. Based on power-control theory (PCT), gender differences in aggressive behaviour are analysed. We assume that differences in labour force participation between father and mother lead to differences in parental control behaviour towards boys and girls, which in turn lead to different risk-taking preferences and eventually produce gender differences in aggressive behaviour. A revised power-control theory acknowledges that dominance ideologies also play a role in the genesis of gender differences in delinquency. This proposition is also tested. Analyses are based on data from 319 families (father, mother and two adolescent opposite-sex siblings) from West Berlin, East Berlin and Toronto. The findings support assumptions of power-control theory but differ substantially between the three cities. Evidence of the link between structural patriarchy and parental style, postulated in the original power-control theory, is found in East Berlin, whereas the West Berlin and Toronto results fit a modified version of power-control theory featuring gender-roles attitudes (ideological patriarchy).

A reformulation and partial test of the power control theory of delinquency
Morash, Merry; Chesney-Lind, Meda, Source: Justice Quarterly, Vol 8, Num 3, September 1991
Abstract: The power control theory of delinquency is one of the few that has attempted to account for both gender and class in delinquency causation. This paper assesses critically the model's conceptual framework and reformulates it on the basis of these concerns as well as the results of prior research. We then test the revised model using data from the National Survey of Children, for which the members of a nationally representative sample of households were interviewed in 1981. Bivariate analysis showed that, contrary to power control theory, gender differences in delinquency appeared in families regardless of their structure (patriarchal or egalitarian). Moreover, a path analysis revealed that the quality of the relationship with the mother was important in explaining low levels of delinquency, particularly in boys. The quality of a youth's relationships with parents, particularly the experience of negative sanctions from the father, was found to explain delinquency for both sexes. Finally, family's social class rather than socialization for risk taking continues to predict the delinquency of both boys and girls.

Power-control and social bond: exploring the effect of patriarchy - Sims Blackwell B.
Source: The Justice Professional, Volume 16, Number 2, Number 2/June 2003
Abstract: Social bonding theory proposes that individuals are constrained from delinquency by their attachment to significant others, commitment, involvement in conventional activities and belief in the law's legitimacy. Power-control theory incorporates the attachment variable into the revised control model, which purports to explain gender differences in crime; however, the other elements of the bond are not integrated. This study explores the usefulness of patriarchy for determining the extent to which males and females differ in levels of these elements of the social bond. It determines that males and females differ in levels of attachment and the degree of parental controls; however, little support for the social integration of the remaining bonding elements into the power-control model is found.

Risk preferences and patriarchy : Extending power-control theory (Préférence concernant le risque et patriarcat : étendre la théorie du pouvoir et du contrôle)
Power-control theory, at its most abstract level, links gender differences in risk preference to patriachal family structures. In previous studio, direct tests have focused on adolescent delinquency, which is a specific form of risk-taking, and have used measures of risk preference specific to delinquency. In the present article, we introduce evidence for more general power-control theory hypotheses by employing a more global measure of risk preference and analyzing data form a sample of adults. We have found that among adults who were raised in move patriarchal families, females have a significantly lower taste for risk, globally defined, than males, and that such a gender difference does not appear among adults who were raised in less patriarchal families. The findings provide a basis for expanding the scope of power-control theory beyond adolescent delinquency to include the gender patterning, and changes over time in that patterning, of a wide range of risk-taking behaviors among adults, including risks that are socially and culturally valued

Power-control as a between- and within-family model: Reconsidering the unit of analysis
BLACKWELL Brenda Sims; REED Mark D. ; 
Department of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University, ETATS-UNIS
Power-control theory predicts gender differences in delinquency based on the level of patriarchy in the family. Tests yield mixed results, generally supporting some elements of the theory. However, because previous research does not test the theory at the family level, research does not capture within-family, as well as between-family, differences. This study, using the National Youth Survey, yields support for the use of family-level data, over individual-level data, in testing power-control theory.

Class in the Household: A Power-Control Theory of Gender and Delinquency
Hagan, John; And Others 
Abstract: Presents an expansion of power-control theory of delinquency based on household characteristics. States that this refined theory accounts for fluctuations in delinquency rates due to social class and gender. Maintains the theory calls for major changes in studying class, gender, and delinquency, as well as for a new appreciation of importance of gender and social structure of patriarchy.