Explain Juvenile Delinquency in Terms of Hirschi”S Social Bonding Theory, with Special Reference to the Case Study

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Social control theory Pages: 17 (6018 words) Published: May 20, 2009
Overview of Travis Hirschi's Social Bond Theory
Applying Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory to the Case of Susan Fryberg Critique of Self-Control Theory
In this assignment I will try to explain juvenile delinquency in terms of Hirschi’s social bonding theory, with special reference to the case study of Susan Fryberg. I will briefly introduce you to Travis Hirschi and walk you thorough his social bonding theory. I will show how events that unfolded in Susan Frybergs life can be explained through Travis Hirschi’s social bonding theory. How the elements of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief would influence her life and her decisions ultimately ending in her detainment in a juvenile facility. I will also take a quick look at the implications that this theory has had on public policy reforms. Lastly I will try to expose some of the shortcoming of Travis Hirschi’s theory with a short critique thereof.

Introduction to Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory
Control theories take the opposite approach from other theories in criminology.  As their starting point, instead of asking what drives people to commit crime, they ask why most people not commit crime.  Control theorists generally argue that there is no problem explaining why people commit crime since all human beings suffer from innate human weaknesses which make them unable to resist temptation.  They focus on restraining or "controlling" factors that are broken or missing inside the personalities of criminals.  If these restraining factors are thought to involve society in some way, as with the sociological notion that norms are internalized, then the theory is said to be a "social" control theory, and is most probably a social bond theory.  Most control theories, however, are a blend of psychiatric, psychological, and sociological ideas.  The most well-known figure in control theory is Travis Hirschi, who emerged around 1969 from his "hellfire and delinquency" studies (Hirschi & Stark 1969) on religion and crime as a pioneer in social control theory and the method of self-report studies.  Hirschi's (1969) book contained the first fully developed social bonding theory.  The relationship between RELIGION and the social bond has attracted the attention of criminologists for years and sociologists for many years beforehand.  Among social bond theorists in criminology, those who postulate the primary importance of family factors usually emphasize the attachment element of the social bond, while those who postulate the primary importance of religion usually emphasize other elements of the social bond, such as commitment (along with commitment in the school setting), belief, or religion as a composite or fifth element of the social bond.  Regarding religion, the slight majority of research is in agreement that religion is a moderate insulator from delinquency and crime (Burkett & White 1974; Albrecht et.al. 1977; Tittle & Welch 1983; Baier & Wright 2001; Johnson et.al. 2001).  However, there are many studies which have NOT supported this conclusion (Hirschi himself in Hirschi & Stark 1969; Jensen & Erickson 1979; Evans et.al 1996; and Benda & Corwyn 1997).  Most limitations reported in the literature center around the problems of how to measure "religiosity" as well as what kind of crime to measure.  So-called "hellfire" by itself (usually measured as beliefs about the consequences of bad behavior) does NOT tend to insulate unless the crime being studied has some personal health issue associated with it (such as alcohol, drugs, smoking, and premarital sex).  Religion does not appear to have much of an effect at influencing less-trivial crime, and the reason may be that living in secular society (which condones much...

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