SOCIAL CONTROL THEORY
Abstracts, Bibliography, Syllabus, Journals,
Books on Social Control
Social control theory attempts to explain why it is that
all of us do not commit crime. Or to put this another way: why are most people
The answer lies in dimensions of social control. The many ways in which people are controlled
by family, schools, work situations, conscience, etc.
Conventional theories, unlike social control theory, try to
explain why individuals commit crime.
A Longitudinal Test of Social Control Theory and
Delinquency - ROBERT AGNEW
Recent longitudinal research suggests that cross-sectional studies have exaggerated the
importance of Hirschi's social control theory. This longitudinal research, however,
suffers from one or more problems. Most of these problems reduce the likelihood of finding
a causal effect from social control to delinquency, and so make the findings of the
longitudinal studies suspect. This article uses data from the first two waves of the
National Youth Survey to overcome these problems, and provide a more accurate estimate of
the effect of social control on delinquency.
Social Control Theory and Delinquency
Michael D. Wiatrowski, David B. Griswold and Mary K. Roberts - American Sociological
Review - Vol. 46, No. 5 (Oct., 1981)
Abstract: Hirschi's social control theory proposes that delinquents fail to form or
maintain a bond to society consisting of attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.
Using data from the Youth in Transition Study, the present report develops and tests
multivariate models of social control theory which simultaneously consider how the four
bond elements operate in relation to delinquency. Factor analysis and communality analysis
examine the uniqueness of the four bond elements, and revised and additional measures are
suggested. Background factors-measures of social class
and ability-are added to the model, and a revised formulation of social control is
The Interethnic Generalizability of Social Control
Theory: An Empirical Test - MARIANNE JUNGER, INEKE HAEN MARSHALL
Social control theory is used to model the self-reported delinquency in a sample of 788
Surinamese, Moroccan, Turkish, and Dutch boys (all living in the Netherlands). Four
hypotheses are tested: (a) social bonding variables predict variations in general
delinquent involvement; (b) social bonding variables predict variations in a variety of
types of delinquency involvement and deviance; (c) delinquent friends play the same role
in the causation of general delinquency; and (d) the dimensions of the social bond are
interrelated in the same way among all four ethnic groups. The multivariate analyses
support the key propositions. The variables most consistently related to delinquency among
the four samples are beliefs in conventional values, virtual (family) supervision,
(school) conflict, and participation in unconventional leisure activities.
The Weak Strength of Social Control Theory -
David F. Greenberg
A reanalysis of self-reported delinquency data from the Richmond Youth Survey indicates
that social control theory has only limited explanatory power. The analysis confirms a
prediction of strain theory, although strain theory, too, has limited explanatory power.
The impact of Hirschi's Causes of Delinquency may have been due as much to its ideological
appeal as to the strength of the evidence that it presented in support of social control
Self-Control and Social Bonds: A Combined Control
Perspective on Deviance
Douglas Longshore, Eunice Chang, Shih-chao Hsieh, Nena Messina, Integrated Substance Abuse
Programs, University of California, Los Angeles
With longitudinal data from a sample of adult male drug offenders, this study tested 4
aspects of social bonding (attachment, involvement, religious commitment, and moral
belief) and association with substance-using peers as outcomes of low self-control and as
mediators of the relationship between low self-control and drug use. The relationship
between low self-control and drug use was fully mediated by moral belief and association
with substance-using peers. These results support the utility of integrating self-control
and social bonding perspectives on deviance.
Exploring the Utility of Social Control Theory for Youth Development
Issues of Attachment, Involvement, and Gender
ANGELA J. HUEBNER, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
SHERRY C. BETTS, University of Arizona
The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of social control theory's
"attachment" and "involvement" bonds as protective factors to examine
gender differences in reports of delinquency and academic achievement in a sample of 7th
to 12th graders. Attachment bonds were operationalized as attachment to parents, to
nonparent adults, and to peers; involvement bonds were operationalized as time spent in
various school- and non-school-based activities. The findings suggest that although
several of the involvement bond variables of social control theory are predictive of both
delinquency and academic achievement for both genders, only the attachment bond variables
provide such an overall protective function for females.
Testing informal social control theory: examining lewd behavior during mardi gras
- Redmon D.- Source: Deviant Behavior, Vol 23, Num 4, 1 July 2002
Abstract: This exploratory study extends Forsyth"s research on lewd behavior during
Mardi Gras by testing Sampson and Laub"s (1993) theory of informal social control.
The overall findings do not support Sampson and Laub's theory of informal social control.
Yet, significant findings did reveal that people who have high incidences of divorces and
engagements are more likely to participate in lewd behavior during Mardi Gras.
Religion and Social Control: An Application of a Modified Social Bond on Violence
Michael A. Cretacci
The central question explored in this article is whether the elements of a revised social
bond, which includes religion, will have an impact on violence across developmental
stages. Tests of social control theory are numerous, but criticism centers on the fact
that the theory has limited explanatory power. Although social control theory is a popular
theory, it was created without addressing a control whose importance was suggested by
several of the authors from whom Hirschi borrowed - religion. The results indicate that
social control theory is a poor explanation of violence. Specifically, only peer
commitment was found to be significant for early adolescents. In addition, only school
attachment, belief, and school and peer commitment were found to be significant for the
middle developmental stage. Further, only school attachment and school commitment attained
significance for late adolescents. Finally, the assertion that religion should be added to
the social bond for the modeling of violence was not supported in this study.
The Integrated Social Control Model and Ethnicity
The Case of Puerto Rican American Delinquency
ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ, Fordham University, DAVID WEISBURD, Rutgers University
Delinquency research has not generally addressed the question raised by ethnographic
studies concerning the extent to which the delinquency of specific ethnic groups can be
modeled with a general theory. This study uses data from a survey of inner-city Puerto
Rican American male adolescents to replicate Elliott, Huizinga, and Ageton's analytical
model of delinquency based on an integration of social control, social learning, and
strain theories. The results generally verify the posited model, indicating that among
Puerto Rican American adolescents, family bonding is a more important influence on
delinquency whereas peer bonding is less important than is the case in the national sample
of more affluent White youths. However, the most influential factors found in the National
Youth Survey are also powerful predictors among Puerto Rican American youth.
Causes of Conformity: An Application of Control Theory to Adult Misdemeanant
Charles A. Lindquist, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Alabama at Birmingham,
Birmingham, AL 35294, U.S.A.
Terry Daniels Smusz, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New River Valley
William Doerner, School of Criminology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306,
The present study represents an attempt to expand Hirschi's social control theory of
delinquency causation to include adult misdemeanant offenders on probation; in addition,
the study proposed to see if social control theory can provide a theoretical framework for
probation prediction studies. Results indicated qualified support for several of the
hypotheses with education and time on present job emerging as salient variables. Analysis
of the data directed attention to several methodological problems and suggestions for
Juvenile Delinquency in The Republic of China: A Chinese Empirical Study of Social
Journal: International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume:12
Issue:1 Dated:(Spring 1988) Pages:59-71
C J Sheu
Data indicated that juvenile delinquency increased dramatically recently in the Republic
Abstract: This paper seeks to explain this phenomenon by invoking Hirschi's Social Control
Theory. However, such an explanation can be offered only when there is empirical evidence
to verify the applicability of Social Control Theory to Chinese society. The study
described here intends to test Social Control Theory by using self-reported data collected
from Chinese junior and senior high school students of northern Taiwan. Apparently, Social
Control Theory received much support from the Chinese data, while both strain theory and
subculture deviance theory were not verified. Social Control Theory is said to be the most
appropriate theory to explain the origin as well as the increased of juvenile delinquency
in Chinese society.
Longitudinal Analysis of Social Control Theory
M D Smith
Social control theory is possibly more successful than most theories of delinquency
because its premises allow for interpretations of variations in delinquent behavior.
Abstract: The social control theory as stated in its contemporary form by Hirschi in
'Causes of Delinquency,' (1969) is empirically examined. The theory states that variations
in delinquent behavior can be related to the possession of four basic elements that bond
an individual to society: an attachment to parents, a belief in the moral validity of
social rules, a commitment to some type of achievement, and an involvement in conventional
activities. Social control theory was tested with data from the Youth in Transition
project, a longitudinal study of a national random sample of male adolescents. Social
control theory was subjected to three tests not reported in the literature. Results
generally demonstrated the validity of the social control theory as an explanation of
A Path Analytic Examination of Differential Social Control Theory.
Ried, L. Douglas
Abstract: Used path analytic techniques to analyze differential social control theory as
predictor of drug use among fifth-eighth grade students. Found that peer non-use
expectations had largest effect on drug use and were directly influenced by parental,
peer, and school attachments.
Social Control Theory and Delinquency: A Multivariate Test.
Authors: Wiatrowski, Michael D.; Swatko, Mary K.
Abstract: Hirschi's social control theory of delinquency status that delinquency
involvement is the function of the failure of an adolescent to form or maintain a bond to
society comprised of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Multivariate models
of social control theory which simultaneously consider how all of the bond elements
operate in relation to delinquency were investigated. Factor analysis and communality
analysis were used to examine the empirical support for the uniqueness of the four bond
elements; a great deal of shared variance among them was found. Measures of social class
and ability as background factors were also added to the model to explicate the effects of
those variables on the educational and occupational aspirational parts of social control
TESTING CONTROL THEORY AND DIFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION: A REANALYSIS OF THE RICHMOND
YOUTH PROJECT DATA
BARBARA J. COSTELLO, PAUL R. VOWELL
In what has become a classic work in the field, Matsueda (1982) tested control theory
against differential association theory using Hirschi's (1969) Richmond Youth Project
data. Matsueda found that measures of "definitions favorable to law violation"
entirely mediated the effect of his social control measures and friends' delinquency, and
concluded that differential association theory was supported over control theory. We also
propose and test a new method of measuring the social bond, conceptualizing the social
bond as a second-order latent construct. In contrast with Matsueda's findings, we find
that the social bond and friends' delinquency retain important direct effects on
delinquency, and that these effects are greater than those of definitions. Thus, our
results are more supportive of control theory than differential association theory.
Social Control Theory and Delinquency