CRIM 101 – LEC 5 – Feb 7
SOCIAL CONTROL, RATIONAL CHOICE, AND DETERRENCE
JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832)
Member of The Classical School of Criminology.
People were rational, and exercised free will.
Would employ a hedonistic calculus in deciding whether a certain action was
more likely to result in pleasure than in pain.
Social control and rational choice theories say there is nothing unique about
criminal behaviour, and that motivation to engage is such behaviour is quite
Instead of asking why certain individuals commit crimes, social control and
rational choice theorists ask why more individuals don’t commit crimes.
UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS cont.
Notion underlying all types of control theory is that conformity cannot be taken for
If you want conformity and social control, you need effective socialization.
If people don’t learn/internalize social conventions or norms, then social controls
will break down or become ineffective.
WALTER RECKLESS’ CONTAINMENT THEORY (example of
Inner containment = self-control, good self-image, ability to tolerate frustration.
Outer containment = family values, institutional reinforcement, effective
WALTER RECKLESS’ CONTAINMENT THEORY cont.
Internal pushes = restlessness, impatience and anger.
External pulls = poverty, unemployment, the media, or delinquent friends.
TRAVIS HIRSCHI’S SOCIAL BOND THEORY
Attachment = ties of affection and respect, with parents, schoolteachers.
Commitment = getting good education, learning trade or profession, finding a
Involvement =being involved in school in recreation, with family.
Belief = shared values – its wrong to steal, people should respect the law.
GOTTFREDSON AND HIRSCHI’S GENERAL THEORY OF CRIME
Next point. A GENERAL THEORY OF CRIME
Points to low self-control as the cause of crime.
Tied in with Classical School's "hedonistic calculus" – people will choose to
commit crimes if they perceive that prospects for pleasure outweigh prospects for
pain or punishment.
Agree with opportunity theory or routine activities theory, and requirements for “a
motivated offender, the absence of a capable guardian, and a suitable target” in
order for crime to take place.
THE CURE FOR CRIME
THE CAUSE OF CRIME:
o Crime is caused by low self-control.
o In turn caused by ineffective or incomplete socialization and ineffective
THE CURE FOR CRIME:
o Adequate child rearing.
o Caregiver must monitor the child’s behavior, recognize deviant behavior
when it occurs, and punish such behavior.
RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY
Rational choice theories also have their roots in Classical School thinking.
Rational choice theorists say criminal motivation doesn't require special
explanation, because criminals are motivated by same things as everyone else –
money and self-gratification (hedonism).
Criminals primarily concerned with potential gains Criminals primarily concerned
with potential gains that can be realized through criminal activity, and ease with
which those gains can be realized.
RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY cont.
Also borrows from economic approach of pain vs. gain.
Offenders decide whether or not to commit crimes by weighing costs and
THE ECONOMY OF DEVIANCE
Gary Becker (1968), Crime and Punishment An Economic Approach.
Employs principle of utilitarianism, just life the Classical School (often referred to
Like everyone else, criminals will maximize their own self interest.
COST BENEFIT RATIOS
o Time required.
o Lost opportunities.
o Material-acquiring property or wealth.
o Emotional-power, revenge or status. THE REASONING CRIMINAL
1986 book by Derek B. Cornish and Ronald V. Clarke
Say that crime meets commonplace