opposed to most criminology theories, social control theory offers
justification for peoples’ obedience to the rules. The theory explains why the
individual behavior conforms to what is generally accepted in the society. This
theory focuses on the external factors and how they become effective in
controlling criminal activities. According to social control theory, crime is inherent
to human nature and conformity is seen to be achieved through the process of
socialization. In the process of individual forming bond with the society, in
order to reduce the probability in the involvement in criminal activities, these
four elements are considered; commitment, attachment, belief, and involvement. The four components are what
determines the social bond and the strength of each of the four components, the
less likelihood of a person committing a crime.
Therefore, social control theory is the most appropriate method to reduce crime
as it is based on the elements of the social bonds that individual forms with the society so as to decrease the probability
of taking part in delinquent behavior.
is the first component of the social bond. Attachment matches to the resulting
ties that youth form from significant others. These important bonds are mainly established in the family setting
when parents act as the role model in the
process of teaching youth what behavior is morally acceptable in the society and
that which is not morally acceptable. The children that do not get proper
attachment mostly show characteristics
such as lack of affection to others or being excessive aggressiveness. In this
context, when there is no attachment to others, it is considered as bound to
moral restraints meaning that one has no superego. In the same perception, lack
of attachment to others is seen as not having morality. Therefore, according to the social control
theory, children are supposed to have an attachment
to others, in so doing, they have the ability to differentiate between
behaviors that are socially acceptable and those that are not, thus reducing
the probability of such children committing crime as opposed to those that have
less attachment to others.
is the second element of the social bond. According to (Siegel, 2012),
commitment is associated with the ambition
of attending a University and one getting a high profile job. The commitment to
study and attain one’s goals is viewed as
an investment and people will risk their investment once they involve in the
delinquency conduct. According to social control theory, youths who have proper set goals will not consider engaging in
the delinquent behavior as compared to the ones that have less hope in the
future. Commitment is seen to directly conform to the conformity, therefore
people are considered to obey the rules as they fear the consequences.
The element of conformity is
labeled as commitment and the people who abide by the rules due to the fear of
the outcomes are committed to the conformity, therefore are not likely to
commit delinquent behavior. Under this component of the social bond, education is emphasized to commitment, just the same
as when parents are emphasized in the attachment. Commitment is perceived in
the terms of the efforts as well as the time that is invested in actions of
plans that are viewed as conventional (McConaghy, 2014). Such
actions were classified as educational aspirations, maintaining one’s reputation or even school performance. Commitment
is also in close association with the cost factors that occur when one engage
in delinquent activities. It is assumed that a person that is committed has
heavily invested in the time as well as the effort in what they aim to achieve.
In this regard, time and effort are seen
as cost factors. For instance, if a person has spent more time striving to get
a managerial job in the company, then he
has less time left to perform deviant acts. Then such a person will not do
anything to ruin his career as he does not want
his work to be for nothing. Therefore, commitment to achieving a certain
goal in future has its cost that includes time and leaves one with little time
to engage in the delinquent behaviors as well as does not want to destroy what
has been achieved over a long time.
third element in the social bond is the involvement. It is considered that if
one takes more of his time to do what is
considered right, then they lack the time to involve in the delinquent
activities. A person that widely engages in the activities
that are generally agreed is committed to deadlines, plans, working
hours and such like, therefore the chance to commit criminal activities is less
likely to occur. For example, a high school student that is highly committed to
join a prestigious University and later secure a job that is well paying, in
order to achieve such dreams needs one to have much involvement, there is no
way to realize such dream without
in the element of the social bond is belief. It is about the moral acceptance
of what is considered right generally. The more people are feeling that they
are bound to the rule, the lesser they are likely to involve in the criminal
activities. In regard to the socialization, everyone is considered to recognize
the legitimacy of one component of the main values. What differentiates between
those 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 or
weak social bond. In relation to this theory, there are two ways in which the
deviants get around the rules (Bartollas,
& Schmalleger, 2014). One of the ways
is by considering not to have meaning to
their beliefs thus they view them as just mere words. The alternative way is by
neutralization. Under this, the deviant justify the act to themselves before
its occurrence, then they violet the rules and maintain the rule at the same
of the theory
to parents as well as the commitment to the conventional
activities has been proven to reduce the criminal activities. According to this
theory, children that are more attached to parents, are taught the behaviors
that are morally acceptable in the
society of which they grow up holding to, as compared to the youths that are
less attached to their parents. Furthermore, youths that are committed to the conventional activities have less time of
involvement in the criminal activities, something that has been proven to work with many youths.
within this theory
as any other theory, social control theory has its own weaknesses. According to
this theory, a person’s behavior is determined by the relationship he has with
others 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 early
philosophers. This approach to behavior has a number of weaknesses.
as the social control theorists seek to explain this, particularly when an
individual goes against social norms thus
committing a crime. According to this
theory, a person under the normal condition avoids
criminal activities as they have a lot to lose in their social ties.
Individuals are considered to take part in the criminal activities when they
are alone and then join new groups for bonds.
Though the method has value, but it does
not account for the factors such as intelligence as well as economic status.
regard to the social control theory, the family
is considered as the basic unit of the society that links the individual to the
greater world (Wells, 2017).
Individuals are considered to adjust in a better way as a result of proper
socialization that is given by parents. The explanation fails to explain the
diversity of family conditions and their outcomes. For example, the theory does
not have much to say on the extended family with uncles and aunts.
from this school view that an individual gets
a self-image of himself in the early ages and later grows up either having the
perception of being the right or bad person. Those individuals that are able to
perceive themselves have a less probability of involving in criminal
activities. 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.
weakness is about the age, the theory dwells so much in explaining the behavior
of the youth as well as the young ones and what cause them to engage in
criminal activities. It has value in explaining crimes that are carried out by
young, but the theory has little to say when it comes to the explanation of the
crimes that are committed by the adults. Most of the violent crimes are
committed by the adults, therefore leaving the theory with a gap.
control theory seeks to explain how the elements of social bond; attachment,
belief, commitment, and involvement
explain how youth are less likely to involve in criminal
activities. According to the theory, youths that are committed to the future, attached to the parents, who have a
belief in the positive self-image and those that are involved in doing the conventional
activities, are less likely to involve in the criminal activities as compared
to those that have less of the mentioned features. The paper has also explored
the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the theory. Some of the strengths of
the theory is that attachment and commitment has been proven to work. But as
any other theory, this theory has a number of weaknesses that includes failing
to account for the criminal activities that are committed by adults as it
concentrates on explaining the cause of criminal
activities by the youth.