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Simon Fraser University
CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

Social Control, Rational Choice and Deterrence Underlying Assumptions - Social control and rational choice theories say there is nothing unique about criminal behaviour, and that motivation to engage in such behaviour is quite widespread - Instead of asking why certain individuals commit crimes, social control and rational choice theorists ask why more individuals don’t commit crimes. - Notion underlying all types of control theory is that conformity cannot be taken for granted - 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 - Inner containment o Self control, good self-image, ability to tolerate frustration - Outer containment o Family values, institutional reinforcement, effective supervision - Internal pushes o Restlessness, impatience and anger - External pulls o Poverty, unemployment, the media, or delinquent friends Travis Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory - Attachment o Ties of affection and respect, with parents, school teachers - Commitment o Getting good education, learning trade or profession, finding a good job - Involvement o Being involved in school, in recreation, with family - Belief o Shared values – it’s wrong to steal, people should respect the law Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime A General Theory of Crime - Point 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 child-rearing - The Cure for Crime o Adequate child-rearing o Caregiver must monitor the child’s behaviour, recognize deviant behaviour when it occurs, and punish such behaviour The Criminal Career - Sacco and Kennedy question whether the concept of the “criminal career” has any real value - Following Gottfredson and Hirschi, they argue that criminal behaviour doesn’t meet the usual definition of – or follow the normal patterns of – a “career” - Doesn’t require specialization training or education, doesn’t progress through usual stages of promotion based upon performance, and in most cases, is not the offender’s main source of income Sampson and Laub’s Life Course Perspective - Social control theory that again talks about weakened social bonds and the informal social controls exerted on the individuals by the family, the school, and by employers or fellow workers No Single Factor - Life course perspective differs from many other criminological theories - Sampson and Laub argue there is no single factor – e.g., Gottfredson and Hirschi’s “low elf- control” – that sets an individual on lifelong pathway to crime - Sampson and Laub do not agree with criminologists like Gottfredson and Hirschi who claim that crime and deviance is stable over the life course - Sampson and Laub argue that criminals do have “careers”, and that they sometimes exit (or desist) from those career Trajectories and Transitions - Turning points - Trajectories = life pathways that people are traveling on, and the direction in which their lives are going - Transitions = turning points, like special life events that may change the trajectories, e.g., marriage, or getting a job Rational Choice Theory
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