SOCIAL CONTROL THEORY attempts to explain why it is that all of us do not commit crime. Social control theory tries to explain why most people are law-abiding? Social control theory is about the many ways in which social control works in family, schools, work situations, and even in conscience. Conventional theories, unlike social control theory, try to explain why individuals commit crime. The answer is in dimensions of social control. Early research on social control theory was based on self-reporting studies.
Edward A. Ross defined social control as "the more that
the smooth running of social machinery implies the frequent breaking off or
turning aside of individual activities, the more perfect is the
Albert J. Reiss defined delinquency as, "behavior consequent to the failure of personal and social controls."
Jackson Toby argued that "the uncommitted adolescent is a candidate for gang socialization." He introduced the concept of stakes in conformity to explain "candidacy" for learning experiences. The notion of stakes in conformity fits very well with concepts invoked in later versions of social control theory.
F. Ivan Nye elaborated a social control theory of delinquency, but specified ways of "operationalization" or to measure control mechanisms and related them to self-reports of delinquent behavior. Like Reiss, he focused on the family as a source of control. Moreover, Nye specified three different types of control:
direct control which is punishment and reward; indirect control by affectionate identification with non-criminals; and internal control through conscience or sense of guilt.
Walter Reckless developed containment theory by focusing on a youth's self-conception or self-image of being a good person as an insulator against peer pressure to engage in delinquency.
Gresham Sykes and David Matza believed that there was little difference between delinquents and non-delinquents, with delinquents engaging in non-delinquent behavior most of the time. They also asserted that most delinquents eventually opt out of the delinquent lifestyle as they grow older. The young are able to deviate by using techniques of neutralization. They can temporarily suspend the applicability of norms by developing attitudes "favorable to deviant behavior".
Travis Warner Hirschi stressed the rationality in the decision whether to engage in crime and argued that a person was less likely to choose crime if they had strong social bonds.
Jack P. Gibbs argued that "Homicide can be described either as control or as resulting from control failure", and proposes that the homicide rate is a function not just of the sheer volume of disputes, but also of the frequency of recourse to a third party for peaceful dispute settlement.
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.
Social Control Theory and
Michael D. Wiatrowski, David B. Griswold and Mary K. Roberts - American Sociological Review - Vol. 46, No. 5 (Oct., 1981).
Abstract: Travis Warner Hirschi's social control theory proposes that delinquents fail to form or maintain a social bond to society consisting of attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. 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. Background factors-measures of social class and ability-are added to the model, and a revised formulation of social control is suggested.
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 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 theory.
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 deviant behavior.
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. 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.
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 research 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 theory.
Causes of Conformity: An Application of Social Control Theory to Adult Misdemeanant Probationers
Charles A. Lindquist, University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Terry Daniels Smusz, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New River Valley.
William Doerner, School of Criminology, Florida State University.
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 future research.
Juvenile Delinquency in The Republic of China: A Chinese Empirical Study of Social Control Theory
Journal: International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume:12 Issue:1 Dated:(Spring 1988) Pages:59-71. C J Sheu.
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', is empirically examined. Social control 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 research 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 delinquent behavior.
TESTING SOCIAL 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 social 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 social 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 social control theory than differential association theory.
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. 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 theory.
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.