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Social Control Theory Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1246 words Published: 10th May 2021

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1. Name of the theorist(s) that coined the theory or most associated with the theory due to his/her research contributions to the theory.

In regards to the Social Control Theory, also known as the Social Bond Theory, the theorist named Hirschi coined it. According to the Social Process Theories lecture, Hirschi wrote a book back in 1969 called Causes of Delinquency. In this book, he addressed the Social Control Theory, where it was originally designed for delinquency in regards to juveniles. In Hirschi’s theory, he believes that all individuals are potential criminals. However, he assumes that true delinquents to criminals are loners. These loners are those who have no attachment, no involvement, no commitment, and don't believe in anything. Those who have these factors are kept under control because they fear that they could lose their relationships with their loved ones. To be clear, Hirschi emphasizes that without social ties, bonds, or interest in others, any individual is free to violate the law.

2. What are the major principles of the theory?  List at least three major principles of the theory.

According to the textbook Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies, by Larry J. Siegel,  Hrischi’s argues that there are four elements that socially bond a person to society. These elements are: attachment (importance), involvement (time spent), commitment (promise), and belief.

-          In the lecture, the professor describes attachment to, “how important your parents are to you.” However, the book describes it as “a person’s sensitivity and interest to others” (p. 250). Adding onto this idea, individuals that are attached with other people learn how to act and behave so that they maintain their relationship intact. Through this process, individuals grow with a joint understanding of social behaviours and individuals boundaries. Juveniles who are able to create a strong attachment with others will not do anything to jeopardize the relationships they have built. In other words, people who have internalized norms and values through strong relationships will choose to produce conventional behavior.

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-          Next is involvement. According to the lecture, involvement refers to, “how much time you spend with your parents.” In the textbook however, involvement is described as “heavy involvement in conventional activities”(p.250). They both lean towards the idea of always being busy. If a juvenile is kept busy with recreational activities, school, and family, the child will have no time to commit a crime. So, Hirschi argues that keeping juveniles involved with activities protects them from luring into criminal behavior.

-          The third element is commitment. According to the lecture, commitment is “promises you make your parents.” In addition to this response, the professor goes on to say that individuals who want to maintain their relationship with their parents will make promises. In the book however, it gives a broad definition such as, “time, energy, and effort expended”(p. 251). In addition, commitment shows an individual’s willingness to accept and observe social norms. This shows that if an individual devotes their time to conventional society, they will not engage in criminal activities to not jeopardize their idolized position that they’ve worked so hard or. So in regards to the parents relationship, a kid will not misbehave and jeopardize the strong relationship they have built. These kids want their support and love from their parents.

-          The last element is belief. In the Chpt. 6 lecture, belief is described as “belief in conventional norms.” The book adds onto this, stating that individuals who surround themselves with the same social setting and that share common moral beliefs, play a role into who you become. In other words, what Hirschi is trying to argue is that if you surround yourself with individuals who have strong beliefs and values, you are less likely to participate in criminal activities.

After learning these four elements, it is important to note that all of these main elements contribute to conforming behavior. If none of these are present, it may lead to a pathway of criminal behavior.

3. Scenario:

Maria is a 16 year old girl who attends Turlock High School. She has grown up with both of her parents her entire life and has a close connection with all of her cousins. Since she is a single daughter, she views her cousins like sisters. If all of this love from her family was taken away, she would be devastated. This is why she would never jeopardize her relationships with her family. (An example of attachment). Maria spends most of her time donating it to charity. She loves to help out her local church and school. It is important to note that she attends church with her family every weekend. (An example of belief). Moving on, Maria is also known to be a triathlete. She plays volleyball, soccer, and tennis. (An example of involvement). Lately she has been donating more of her time to her school government club though. Maria has been consistently working to become Student President of her class. Today she finally found out that she got the position. She is so excited! She worked tirelessly to get the position. Maria knows she will be put on the spot light for the rest of the year, guiding and leading her class. She will be their role model. It is her responsibility to be well-behaved or her position will be revoked. (An example of commitment). After analyzing Maria’s situation, it is clear she is not being guided toward a criminal pathway. On the contrary, she is setting herself up for success in college. Lastly, it is important to note that if a kid has a strong attachment to conventional norms, beliefs, activities, and people, then this kid has a lower chance to become a delinquent.


Jason, a 16 year old boy who attends Turlock High School is struggling with his grades and is frequently absent. The frequent absences were due to the fact that he has no friends and was being bullied by other kids at school. While at home, Jason and his father watched “bad” movies and played “bad” video games. It is important to note that Jason’s father began playing “bad” video games with him since he was as young as 4. Not only was Jason’s guardian a bad influence, but to add on, both of his parents were frequently high on prescription medication much of the time.  Moving on, Jason’s family also tended to move frequently because of eviction. Not only did the father not pay for the bills, he was physically and mentally abusive. This is what made Jason dislike his father a lot. At this point, it is clear that there is no sign of attachment, not even towards his parents. In addition, Jason has no involvement with school activities or outside activities. He is simply prone to bad influences at home. Moving on, there is no commitment. There is no promise being made to do something. In regards to belief, this kid is being raised on videogames and violence. Clearly, Jason is being influenced to commit a crime in the future.


Siegel, L. J. (2018). Criminology: Theories, patterns, and typologies (13th ed.). Boston, MA:

Cengage Learning.


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