As opposed to most criminology theories, social control

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Last updated: August 18, 2019

Asopposed to most criminology theories, social control theory offersjustification for peoples’ obedience to the rules. The theory explains why theindividual behavior conforms to what is generally accepted in the society. Thistheory focuses on the external factors and how they become effective incontrolling criminal activities. According to social control theory, crime is inherentto human nature and conformity is seen to be achieved through the process ofsocialization.

In the process of individual forming bond with the society, inorder to reduce the probability in the involvement in criminal activities, thesefour elements are considered; commitment, attachment, belief, and involvement. The four components are whatdetermines the social bond and the strength of each of the four components, theless likelihood of a person committing a crime.Therefore, social control theory is the most appropriate method to reduce crimeas it is based on the elements of the social bonds that individual forms with the society so as to decrease the probabilityof taking part in delinquent behavior.

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Attachmentis the first component of the social bond. Attachment matches to the resultingties that youth form from significant others. These important bonds are mainly established in the family settingwhen parents act as the role model in theprocess of teaching youth what behavior is morally acceptable in the society andthat which is not morally acceptable. The children that do not get properattachment mostly show characteristicssuch as lack of affection to others or being excessive aggressiveness.

In thiscontext, when there is no attachment to others, it is considered as bound tomoral restraints meaning that one has no superego. In the same perception, lackof attachment to others is seen as not having morality.  Therefore, according to the social controltheory, children are supposed to have an attachmentto others, in so doing, they have the ability to differentiate betweenbehaviors that are socially acceptable and those that are not, thus reducingthe probability of such children committing crime as opposed to those that haveless attachment to others.

Commitmentis the second element of the social bond. According to (Siegel, 2012),commitment is associated with the ambitionof attending a University and one getting a high profile job. The commitment tostudy and attain one’s goals is viewed asan investment and people will risk their investment once they involve in thedelinquency conduct. According to social control theory, youths who have proper set goals will not consider engaging inthe delinquent behavior as compared to the ones that have less hope in thefuture.

Commitment is seen to directly conform to the conformity, thereforepeople are considered to obey the rules as they fear the consequences.The element of conformity islabeled as commitment and the people who abide by the rules due to the fear ofthe outcomes are committed to the conformity, therefore are not likely tocommit delinquent behavior. Under this component of the social bond, education is emphasized to commitment, just the sameas when parents are emphasized in the attachment. Commitment is perceived inthe terms of the efforts as well as the time that is invested in actions ofplans that are viewed as conventional (McConaghy, 2014). Suchactions were classified as educational aspirations, maintaining one’s reputation or even school performance. Commitmentis also in close association with the cost factors that occur when one engagein delinquent activities. It is assumed that a person that is committed hasheavily invested in the time as well as the effort in what they aim to achieve.In this regard, time and effort are seenas cost factors.

For instance, if a person has spent more time striving to geta managerial job in the company, then hehas less time left to perform deviant acts. Then such a person will not doanything to ruin his career as he does not wanthis work to be for nothing. Therefore, commitment to achieving a certaingoal in future has its cost that includes time and leaves one with little timeto engage in the delinquent behaviors as well as does not want to destroy whathas been achieved over a long time.Thethird element in the social bond is the involvement. It is considered that ifone takes more of his time to do what isconsidered right, then they lack the time to involve in the delinquentactivities. A person that widely engages in the activitiesthat are generally agreed is committed to deadlines, plans, workinghours and such like, therefore the chance to commit criminal activities is lesslikely to occur.

For example, a high school student that is highly committed tojoin a prestigious University and later secure a job that is well paying, inorder to achieve such dreams needs one to have much involvement, there is noway to realize such dream withoutextensive involvement.Lastlyin the element of the social bond is belief. It is about the moral acceptanceof what is considered right generally.

The more people are feeling that theyare bound to the rule, the lesser they are likely to involve in the criminalactivities. In regard to the socialization, everyone is considered to recognizethe legitimacy of one component of the main values. What differentiates betweenthose that commit crime and others is that deviant recognizes the norms but they have no feeling that they are bound by those rules as a result of lack of belief orweak social bond. In relation to this theory, there are two ways in which thedeviants get around the rules (Bartollas,& Schmalleger, 2014). One of the waysis by considering not to have meaning totheir beliefs thus they view them as just mere words. The alternative way is byneutralization. Under this, the deviant justify the act to themselves beforeits occurrence, then they violet the rules and maintain the rule at the sametime.  Strengthsof the theoryAttachmentto parents as well as the commitment to the conventionalactivities has been proven to reduce the criminal activities.

According to thistheory, children that are more attached to parents, are taught the behaviorsthat are morally acceptable in thesociety of which they grow up holding to, as compared to the youths that areless attached to their parents. Furthermore, youths that are committed to the conventional activities have less time ofinvolvement in the criminal activities, something that has been proven to work with many youths.  Weaknesseswithin this theoryJustas any other theory, social control theory has its own weaknesses. According tothis theory, a person’s behavior is determined by the relationship he has withothers as well as the social ties that binds him to the rest of the world.Scholars in this school consider themselves as continuing the work of the earlyphilosophers. This approach to behavior has a number of weaknesses.Delinquency,as the social control theorists seek to explain this, particularly when anindividual goes against social norms thuscommitting a crime.

According to thistheory, a person under the normal condition avoidscriminal activities as they have a lot to lose in their social ties.Individuals are considered to take part in the criminal activities when theyare alone and then join new groups for bonds.Though the method has value, but it doesnot account for the factors such as intelligence as well as economic status.

Inregard to the social control theory, the familyis considered as the basic unit of the society that links the individual to thegreater world (Wells, 2017).Individuals are considered to adjust in a better way as a result of propersocialization that is given by parents. The explanation fails to explain thediversity of family conditions and their outcomes.

For example, the theory doesnot have much to say on the extended family with uncles and aunts.Scholarsfrom this school view that an individual getsa self-image of himself in the early ages and later grows up either having theperception of being the right or bad person. Those individuals that are able toperceive themselves have a less probability of involving in criminalactivities. However, social control theory is not easy to test as it lacks clear measures as to which one has to base on when building a self-image.Anotherweakness is about the age, the theory dwells so much in explaining the behaviorof the youth as well as the young ones and what cause them to engage incriminal activities. It has value in explaining crimes that are carried out byyoung, but the theory has little to say when it comes to the explanation of thecrimes that are committed by the adults.

Most of the violent crimes arecommitted by the adults, therefore leaving the theory with a gap.ConclusionSocialcontrol theory seeks to explain how the elements of social bond; attachment,belief, commitment, and involvementexplain how youth are less likely to involve in criminalactivities. According to the theory, youths that are committed to the future, attached to the parents, who have abelief in the positive self-image and those that are involved in doing the conventionalactivities, are less likely to involve in the criminal activities as comparedto those that have less of the mentioned features. The paper has also exploredthe strengths as well as the weaknesses of the theory.

Some of the strengths ofthe theory is that attachment and commitment has been proven to work. But asany other theory, this theory has a number of weaknesses that includes failingto account for the criminal activities that are committed by adults as itconcentrates on explaining the cause of criminalactivities by the youth. 

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