Outline and Critically Evaluate the Version of 'Control Theory' Provided by Travis Hirschi(1969) in Causes of Delinquency

Topics: Criminology, Sociology, Social control theory Pages: 7 (2628 words) Published: December 9, 2012
There were three types of ways to explain deviant behavior. The first way was strain theory, which emphasize conformity cannot satisfy force people into deviance. The second way was cultural theory; it says deviant behavior was a set of standards that were not accepted by the powerful society. Control theory was the last way to explain deviant behaviors, which explain the reason of people was free to commit delinquent acts, was the broken social tie. Control theories have a long history. Most of their basis was assume that every individual was born free to break the law. Therefore, commit crime was natural. However, society makes rules, laws and ties to bind citizens to take part in the set of standards which were accepted by the social order. We see buying food was natural but take food as crime. Control theories explain how the societies convince people to live with the rule that the societies give us. Travis Hirschi has written a book called “Causes of Delinquency” in 1969, which brings a new control theory towards juvenile delinquency. In his book, he criticized Strain Theory and ignores American tradition. It was a new idea to explain juvenile delinquency at that time. However, it cannot fully interpret crime and juvenile delinquency in nowadays. In the period from 1950 to 1964, the total number of juvenile who being arrested has increase from 14,539 to 961,132 in the America bureau of the census. (David, 1995, 58) It increased sixty six times and it was a rapid growth in the juvenile delinquency. It was a serious problem in America at that time. Therefore, there were many theory came out and described the reason of juvenile delinquency at that time. Many control theories were brought out at that time and Travis Hirschi brought his own control theory at that time too. There were many control theories existed before Travis wrote his book. For example, Skes and Matza have written a book called “Techniques of Neutralization” in 1957. They explained that people will try to denial when they do anything they perceive as wrong. They denial the responsibility to the people who force or command them to commit deviant acts. They denial there was no victim or no one was hurt while they were committing deviant behaviors. Control theories were explaining deviants committed by the lower class children. This form of control theory was the main trend of control theory at that time. However, Travis ignored the American tradition and main trend of control theory at that time and published his book in 1969. He brought a brand new control theory, which has also been called social bonding theory. Travis’s control theory in 1969 took a negative view at human nature. (James, 2006, 191) He saw human beings were selfish and we made decisions based on which gives us the greatest benefit to our needs. He said everyone was free to commit crime or deviant acts and there were no relationship between social class and delinquency. He thought the reason of crime appears was broken down of American family. Social bond was the main reason that affects us to not commit crime. The reason that we did not commit crime was we all afraid of losing the important relationships with the people we though who were significant to us. For example, parents, teachers, peers and even employers. If we commit crime or deviant acts, we might have risks in damaging the relationships between the people who were important to us. Therefore, he brought out four major social bonds that assuring conformity which were attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Attachment means if we want to maintain ties with others those were meaningful to us, we will create conformity towards the society. According to Travis, The stronger this bond, the more likely the person was to take it into account when and if he contemplates a criminal act. (Travis, 1969, 83) He thought attachment was the most important among the four elements of social bond. It was because it referred to the...
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