Deviance Jan 11
Social Control Theories of Deviance
The question: why do people commit crime? Is transformed with social control
theories to ... “ why don't more people do it?
Has to do with social controls and effectiveness.
Control theories assume that everyone is capable of deviance
It also says that we are all born deviants.
When social control works, it creates CONFORMITY; when it fails, it does not
necessarily create deviance, it just provides the individual with opportunities to
choose a deviant path
Focus is on socialization and super saturation of the individual
Social control theories are in the realm of positivism – objective approach. More
scientific. There is an explanation that science can provide.
Travis Hirschi: Social Bond Theory
Why aren't you a criminal?
Answer: A stake in conformity
Similar to classical theory and Hobbs and the social contract.
Same foundational idea that society needs structure to function.
Deviance occurs when social bonds become weak or broken
If you care about what people think you are less likely to deviate.
Argues we are firmly bonded to conventional society and therefore do not deviate.
Fundamental bias in this theory towards the “ideal” family.
The family is the primary socialization factor in this theory.
What is a good family?
Middle class values
Strict gender roles and traditional gender roles
single parent non-white
Focus on this theory is stay at home moms. Not dad.
If the child grows up bad then the mother is to blame.
Stats say that children are at greater risk of child abuse at home then anywhere else.
When moms stay at home they feel isolated, stressed and devalued. Some theories
suggest this puts children at greater risk of child abuse.
Hirschi argues that we are born deviant and we have to be steered in the right
direction by our family.
Hirschi: 4 Main Types of Bonds
1) Attachment: to significant others. Family and reference others. Reference
others are those we hold as standards people we want to be like. School is
the second most influential control – helps you develop bonds. We are not
talking about this in the extreme (psycho paths with no attachment) Regular
teenagers have some resentment toward parents.
Those who poor attachment would be attracted to gang involvement. He
argues if you have strong attachment to the family you are less likely to deter
from the conforming path. “We are moral beings to the extent we are social
Hirschi also focused on academic success important to attachment. It has
been updated to say it is about bonding with a peer group at school. That is
more important than grades.
2) Commitment: to occupational aspirations. Career employment vs survival
jobs. The higher your aspirations are the higher you have a commitment to
conformity. Does not explain white collar crime and it is classist!
3) Involvement: keeping your kids busy. Youth that do their homework and are
members of sports teams are more likely to conform. Those who are not
involved are more likely to do drugs etc.
4) Belief: youth invested in the norms and values of the family and school and
society. They will more likely conform. If you think police are oppressive,
teachers a dumb, you are more likely to be deviant. This does not take into
account families that live different lifestyles that are not criminal.
There is no explanation for people who have strong bonds in all four but go on to be
You have to integrate other theories to fill in the gaps of this one. Walter Reckless: Containment Theory
Early version of social control perspective.
Focus: On INNER and OUTER factors that “Contain” the average person but are weak
or absent in deviants
They can be both direct and indirect
Inner controls: are self controls. Your ability to control yourself. These inner
controls can be both direct and indirect. Direct would be the ability to feel shame
guilt it is our conscience. It is our inner strength our ability to take responsibility. If
any of this is weak or absent we are more likely to be deviant.
Indirect Inner control would be based on an individual rational interest on
maintaining conformity. It is how we want to be see