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Control Theories. Control theories are different. Most theories assume that people naturally obey the law and that special forces drive people to commit crime Biological Psychological Social Control theories (there are more than one) are different

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control theories are different
Control theories are different
  • Most theories assume that people naturally obey the lawand that special forces drive people to commit crime
    • Biological
    • Psychological
    • Social
  • Control theories (there are more than one) are different
    • Assume that people would commit crimes if left alone
    • Crime caused by weaknesses in restraining forces
    • Crime NOT caused by driving forces
      • Not by biology, not by psychology, not by social structure
  • Therefore, to prevent crime, must have, devise and apply “controls”
    • Need cops, judges, parents, social rules, law-abiding friends and groups...
early control theories
Early control theories
  • Reiss – personal and social controls
    • Personal controls thru ego and superego
    • Failure to submit to social controls
      • Skipping school, disciplinary problems
  • Toby – control through “stake in conformity”
    • Students who do well in school have better prospects, thus have more to lose
    • Contagion through peer support
  • Nye – social control through family
    • Direct control through punishment
    • Internal control - conscience
    • Indirect control (ID with parents & others)
    • Control depends on availability of means to satisfy needs
matza delinquency and drift
Matza – “Delinquencyand Drift”
  • Most delinquents (D’s) not intrinsically different fromnon-delinquents
    • D’s engage in law-abiding behavior most of the time
    • Most D’s usually grow out of delinquency
  • Drift: Weakening of the moral bind of the law
    • D’s don’t reject conventional mores: they neutralize them with excuses and justifications
    • “Sense of irresponsibility” – commit crimes but think they’re guiltless
    • “Sense of injustice” – wrongly dealt with by the CJ system
  • Once bond is weakened, factors take over that cause juvenile to choose delinquency
    • D’s beset by hopelessness and lack of control over future
    • D’s gain a sense of power through acting
  • Concept may not apply to serious D’s
    • They may not be “drifters” – may be committed or compulsive

travis hirschi social control theory
Travis Hirschi:Social Control Theory
  • Individuals tightly bonded to conventionalsocial groups less likely to be delinquent
    • Family
    • School
    • Non-delinquent peers
  • There are four elements of the social bond
    • Attachment to conventional others (affection, sensitivity to their feelings and needs)
    • Commitment to conventional society
    • Involvement in conventional activities
    • Belief in following conventional rules
hirschi s test of social control theory self reports by 4 000 high school student
Hirschi’s test of social control theory –self-reports by 4,000 high-school student
  • Attachment to conventional others
    • Boys more attached to parents report less delinquency
    • Boys less attached to or less successful in school report more delinquency
    • Boys more attached to peers reported less delinquency
      • Attachment to D peers can increase D if other controls not in place
  • Commitment to conventional society
    • D’s have low educational and occupational aspirations
    • The higher the aspiration, the lower the D
  • Involvement in conventional activities
    • Youths who spent more time working, dating, watching TV, reading, etc. had higher D (inconsistent with control theory)
    • But: youths who reported being bored, spent less time on homework, more time talking to friends & riding around in cars also had higher D
  • Belief in following conventional rules
    • Youths who thought it OK to break the law reported more delinquency
    • No support for a “lower-class culture” – Delinquent beliefs held by academically incompetent youths from all social strata
hirschi s control theory issues
Hirschi’s controltheory – issues
  • Hirschi tested only for relatively trivialmisconduct – few seriously delinquent youthsin the sample
  • Are different causal processes at work for serious delinquency?
    • Hirschi’s delinquency takes little time – it is not an all-consuming lifestyle, such as an active criminal gang
    • Hirschi assumes that control applies to all D behavior, trivial and serious
    • Hirschi assumes that D behavior does not need a specific cause – it is “naturally motivated”, requires no explanation other than it is “fun”
      • Are shootings “natural”?
      • Do individual pathologies matter? Aggression?
  • Much support for Hirschi’s theory is tautological
    • “Youths who thought it OK to break the law...reported more delinquency”
    • What’s the difference between one group and the other? (It’s like saying that delinquency causes delinquency.)

gottfredson and hirschi general theory of crime
Gottfredson and Hirschi – “General Theory of Crime”
  • All types of crime can be explained by low self-control + opportunity to commit crime
  • Self-control is internal
    • Affected by external factors such as mentioned inHirschi’s social control theory only to age 8
  • Ordinary crimes have similar characteristics
    • Immediate gratification, few long-term benefits
    • Exciting, risky, require little planning or skill
    • Heavy cost to victim
  • Ordinary criminals have “low self-control”
    • Impulsive, insensitive
    • Physical, non-verbal rather than mental
    • Risk taking, short-sighted
    • Above cause smoking, drinking, involvement in accidents
gottfredson hirschi poor child rearing low self control
Gottfredson & Hirschi –poor child-rearing  lowself-control
  • Adequate child-rearing properly “socializes”a child by imposing controls
    • Monitoring and tracking child’s behavior
    • Recognizing deviance when it occurs
    • Consistently punishing the behavior when recognized
  • Controls are ultimately internalized
    • By age 8 self-control is essentially set
    • After age 8, change in rate of offending determined by opportunities
  • Low self-control explains many relationships
    • Delinquent peers  delinquency: Those with poor self-control seek each other out
    • School performance  delinquency: Those with poor self-control avoid school
    • Unemployment  crime: Those with poor self-control have trouble keeping jobs

issues with control theories
Issues with control theories
  • Tautological: “low self-control” defined by “low self-control” behavior
  • Can low self-control explain white collar crime?
  • Can low self-control explain variation (differences) in crime rates across time and place?
  • Difficulty testing causal connection between poor child-rearing and self-control
  • Is self-control really set by age 8?
  • How do opportunities interact with low self control to produce crime?
    • One test found a relationship between low-self control and opportunity for crimes of fraud, not for crimes of force
    • Another test found that low self-control and opportunity have an explanatory effect on crime, but it’s very small
  • Hirschi altered definition of self-control to be the “tendency to consider the full range of costs of a particular act”
policy implications of control theories
Policy implications of control theories
  • Support...
    • Curfew laws
    • After-school activities
    • Job programs
    • Head-Start & early-childhood education
    • Parental instruction
    • Assistance to struggling families
  • Oppose...
    • Adult offender programs (may be too late)
    • Police tactics that create opportunities to commitcrime (e.g., decoys, undercover work)