Social Control Theory Flashcards, test questions and answers
Discover flashcards, test exam answers, and assignments to help you learn more about Social Control Theory and other subjects. Don’t miss the chance to use them for more effective college education. Use our database of questions and answers on Social Control Theory and get quick solutions for your test.
What is Social Control Theory?
Social Control Theory is a sociological theory that suggests that people’s relationships, commitments, beliefs, values and norms encourage them to act in ways that are beneficial to society. It holds that individuals need social controls to keep them from deviating from what is considered normal or acceptable behavior. The theory postulates that the stronger the social controls, the less likely individuals are to engage in deviant behavior. The theory was developed by sociologist Travis Hirschi in 1969. He argued that crime is not caused by poverty or lack of education but rather by a lack of attachment and commitment to society. According to Hirschi, people have a natural tendency towards deviance which must be kept in check through strong social bonds such as family ties, religious faith and close friendships. When these ties are weakened or absent, individuals are more likely to engage in criminal activity as they no longer feel controlled by societal expectations and values. Hirschi identified four components which he believed were necessary for effective social control: attachment (a sense of belonging), commitment (investment in conventional goals), involvement (engagement with activities) and belief (an acceptance of norms). He suggested that if any one of these elements was lacking it would increase the likelihood of deviant behaviour among individuals. The Social Control Theory has been widely used as an explanation for why some people become involved with criminal activities while others do not. It has also been useful for understanding how changes within societies might lead to increased crime rates due to weakened social bonds between members of communities. In recent years it has become popular among criminologists who wish to understand why certain groups are more likely than others to engage in criminal behaviour despite similar backgrounds and circumstances.