Chapter 14: social theories
Social control theory:
• Assumes that we are neither good nor evil, but have the capacity to do wrong (since its in our nature to seek
prosperity). ‘Wrong’ may be the most efficient way of achieving our goals.
• Control theory asks since wrong is the quickest way to gratify oneself “why don’t we all break the law?” .
Thus, What needs to be explained is conformity rather than deviance
• Answer: We conform because of social controls the processes that bind us to the social order (We
commit crimes when these bonds are weak or bonds break apart such as family, loved ones etc)
DURKHEIM: social integration is key
• Importance of social bonds ( How well are you bonded are you to the society around you) in the
understanding of deviant behavior ( as compare to Merton who argued for NOT having the mean)
• If social rules/law are weak and there is little consensus about their applicability (i.e. free and legal
prostitution/gambling), society will be unable to regulate morality, and deviance will be common
(prostitution/gambling still occurs).
• Used his work on suicide to emphasize the significance of social bonds in understanding deviant behavior
(society selects the candidates for suicides)
• Egoistic: self. Insufficient bond to the society. Types of suicide where people are poorly integrated into
the society. They cannot function ingroup, lonely, by they’re own and so on.
• Anomic suicide: lawless ness society or rapid change that is often caused after rapid economic change. In
this states, life might loss the worth of your living.
Thrasher and The Gang
• The Gang located gangs arise spntanously where there were breaks in the structure of social organization.
Geographic breaks such as deteriorated neighborhoods or slums, rapid succession of inhabitants, mobility,
and disorganization are often where they are found.
• Social breaks such as adolescence, which is a period of transition between childhood and maturity often
when gangs arise.
• Gangs need not be delinquent, but delinquency is often exciting to the youth in such neighborhoods
Shaw & McKay: Ecological analysis:
• Crime and delinquency would occur if the community failed to supply a structure through which common
values can be realized and common problems solved. Thus it was NOT the individual BUT the social
structure affected the rate of crimes and delinquency.
• Supported through ecological analysis showing that highest crime rates near city center and declined
outward in Chicago.
• Attributed this to a failure of neighborhood institutions and organizations such as families, schools, and
churches to provide social controls in these highcrime areas
• SOME WEAKNESSES WITH THIS WORK ▯Problem of ecological fallacy: For example, stating that
the lower call/ poor are the majority of the people in community (group analysis) and then stating that thus
lower class/poor people are criminals (conclusion made about individual)
• This is NOT TRUE. 1) Bars hotels, etc. are often located downtown and attract people from everywhere. 2)
“ndddle class” youth may display their delinquency downtown and away from where they live.
• 2 : Methodological problems: specification of variables. social disorganization’ is ambiguous and value
• 3 problem▯Results it used to support itself were also consistent with other theories, including strain
• 4rth problem Never directly measured the degree of social control but rather inferred it. Such as stating
that highincome neighborhoods were better organized.
**Early social control theories: Reiss and Nye
• Reiss: argued that BOTH social control (family and stuff as stated above) and personal control (individual
interests)▯if absent ▯ leads to crime. • Nyes▯ imilar argument as Reiss but he was methodologically different (use selfreported delinquency vs.
raise who used report of court assignment delinquents). Also, expanded on the definition of two controls.
• Argued that Weak control, free the person to commit the delinquent act by lowering the cost relative to the
available alternatives. And family was the MOST significant group in the development of social control.
TRAVIS HIRSCHI AND THE SOCIAL BOND
• Individuals are more likely to become deviant if their bond to society is weak or broken. He had a really
good empirical evidence for all this arguments.
• Four aspects of the social bond are:
o Attachment affective ties to other persons (parent, sibling, or other family members whose feeling
you might not wanted to hurt or embarrass them▯lack these then no care for other)
o Commitment the pursuit of conventional goals such as school and job (bonds/ties person because
would not want a criminal record that could potential prevent the person from reaching his goals)
o Involvement busy with conventional activities e.g. sports and volunteer work (busy in school and
work then you won’t have time for crime)
o Belief – the degree to which an INDUIDUAL in conventional values, morality, and the legitimacy of
law (lack of belief in the legitimacy of police such as by the aboriginals)
Selfcontrol: The General Theory of crime
• Control theory focused on external controls – family, friends and school
• The general theory of crime proposed also by Hirsch states that people with low “selfcontrol” have a
greater propensity for crime and other risky behavior, drug use, alcohol etc. ( mostly delinquent friends
cause you to take these substances though)
o They are impulsive, focus on the immediate situation rather than the future, less stable relationships,
o One cause of low selfcontrol is early childhood socialization, and effects last throughout the life
course. While weak parenting during early childhood may be a problem, studies show that strict
discipline may also be conducive for delinquency,
o Other research does NOT agree with this. Found that delinquent youth can change once they have social
bonds (thus they are NOT static and the delinquent personality can change throughout life)
o Marshmallow study can predict behavior: delay gratification ▯ self control can really help you
o A number of aspects of the family relationship are associated with delinquency (These variables are
also predictive of adult criminality)
o Strength of family ties ▯it creates as SOCIAL BONDS (presents you from committing crimes)
o Parental supervision and discipline: supervision considered the most effective method special
parental supervision to make sure the child does not hang out with unsuitable friends. Discipline is
also good, not necessarily physical punis