Sociology 2259 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Travis Hirschi, Social Disorganization Theory, Turnitin
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Social Control Theories of Deviance
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
• The question: Why do people commit crime? Is transformed with Social Control Theories to…
“Why don’t more people do it?”
• Control Theories assume that everyone is capable of deviance, and they put greater stress on the
way socialization and supervision hold people to conventional paths
• Deviance is alluring and exciting… and an easy route to goal attainment.
• Many kinds of deviance are exciting, alluring, easier way of attaining goals
• 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.
• Combatable with psychological and biological explanations of deviance
• Focus: Socialization and Supervision
• Back in the realm of Positivism
o Using natural science methods
o Objective observations
Travis Hirschi: Social Bond Theory
• Why aren’t you a criminal?
o Answer: A stake in conformity
▪ Reputation to uphold
▪ Consequences for non-conforming behaviour
▪ Sanctions to non-conforming behaviour
▪ If you care what people think you will conform
• Deviance occurs when social bonds become weak or broken.
• Fundamental bias in this theory towards the “ideal” family.
o Main socializing agent is the family
o The mother would be blamed
o Any family that doesn’t meet this expectations isn't the ideal family and aren't considered
o You could have the structure but if you have different values that can also exclude you from
the "ideal family"
• Rooted in social disorganization theory, classical perspective and neutralization theory
• Assumption is that everyone would deviate without social structure
• 4 Main Types of Bonds
▪ Combination of caring and supervision
▪ Our attachment to our significant and "reference others" (people we use as standards
for our own behaviour)
▪ Also focused on school
• Referencing academic success, the better you do in school the more you will be
attachment to your peers
▪ Is measured through the nature of the bond that that child has with their parents
▪ Extreme lack of attachment is indicative of a psychopathic personality, someone who
neither cares how others feel nor welcomes their attention (supervision)
• It also makes you more vulnerable to participate in criminal behaviour
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• Conformity and attachment to the family excludes this behaviour and you're
more likely to be conforming
▪ Any strong attachment, whether to family or peer group, would tend to lead to
▪ We can experience of attachment as confining which normal
▪ "We are moral beings to the extent that we are social beings"
▪ "a stake in conformity"
▪ The idea behind commitment is that the more people have to lose by violating norms,
the less likely they are to risk it
▪ Referring to the commitment to career aspirations
▪ The more commitment you have to higher career aspirations the more conforming
you are to society
▪ The assumption that doctors are better than say someone in trades is classists
▪ It does not matter what occupation you have, it does not affect if you're a law abiding
citizen or not
▪ When voluntary, is frequently a consequence of commitment
▪ People deeply committed to conventional lines of action are likely to devote much of
their time and energy to conventional activities
▪ Having a belief in the dominant value system of society
▪ Also focuses mainly on values such a respect for the police and concern for teachers
▪ People who are bonded in this way believe in respecting police, obeying laws, and
staying out of trouble
▪ Does not give any value or recognition to the beliefs of subcultures
▪ It does not consider those who have a strong bonds but also engage in deviant
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
• They can be both DIRECT and INDIRECT.
• If you are a young person who is deviant that those inner or outer controls are weak or absent
• Inner controls are also referred to as self-controls
o Are the individual experiences, in varying degrees, feelings of inferiority, hostility, anger,
rebellion, and even organically based urges toward deviant gratification
o If these inner pressures toward deviance are uncontrolled, deviance will occur
o Are being able to control your feelings acceptably
o Direct inner control is our ability to feel shame, guilt, conscious, sense of responsibility, and
able to handle your frustration tolerance
o Indirect inner control is more about having a rational interest in how people think about us
and see us; its based on the individuals rational interest in maintaining a "stake in
o The healthy self if conforming and conventional, goal-directed in a realistic and flexible way,
and able to tolerate frustration and defer gratification
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