Travis Hirshci had went to college and received an undergraduate degree in sociology. Once he moved to a more prominent city to attend graduate school he had observed behavior. He reviewed how people’s social interactions affected their personal choices and behaviors. This led him to researching criminal behavior and the connection to social bond and control theory. Hirschi’s theories came about back in the late 1960’s when the world was evolving after war, and independence. People were making decisions that were not normally made or accepted in society. The era that Hirschi was experienced had become a new age of expansion in dependence, and freedom of choice in how they lived life. This type of era brought a curiosity to Hirschi as to why people committed crime, and why others chose not to.
Hirschi had coined his idea as social bond and control theory. “The research that was related to this type of theory led him to believe that people’s choices and actions resulted from social bonds” . The social bonds people have from birth correlates to the actions they have as they grow up, and exceed into adulthood. The social bond theory was implanted by Hirshci, and related to the relationships and bonds children had with parents and friends. If a child had a strong social bond with relationships from birth to adulthood then it would be less likely that child would commit crime as a juvenile or adult. If a person did not form social bonds from birth and up then it would be more likely that the child would end up in some type of criminal behavior as he grew towards adulthood.
The social relationships are important when babies are born. If a baby has a close bond with their parents then they will learn the behaviors that parents instill in their minds as they grow. If a mom has a child, and does not form a bond with that child then there will be no connection of learning and control form the parent to the child. This type of bond will not only shape the way the child interacts in other social environments, but will help build relationships with other children.
“The social control theory deals with how an individual builds social bonds with family, friends, school, and community activities” . The increased social bonds help with social control and deter from criminal behaviors. People who lack social bonds and social control are more apt to take part in criminal acts. The lack of social bonding as a child to adulthood affect the social control an individual has towards choices and behaviors. Hirschi looks at his theory as why people don’t take part in criminal acts instead of why they do commit criminal acts.
Hirschi describes social control theory as a theory that defines people who are more social bonded that are not as susceptible to become criminals. The way Hirschi explains his theory is that people are born being able to be criminals, but the ones who have strong social ties with family and society will not be as likely to focus on this type of criminology.
The bonds we have socially play a huge role in the decisions that we make in life. If a person has had little social bonding or control then he is more apt to not worry about consequences of his behavior. A teenager who has had little social bonding from either parental figure may be more prone to have friends who have the same background. The friends may choose to skip school and not care about the consequences. The teenager does the same and skips school because she has no consequences to worry about. Rules and laws were not distilled or taught to her, and therefore hangs out with teens who do not care about consequences either. The teen does not look at skipping school as a problem or bad choice as if someone who had stronger social bonds would.
A teenager who has strong social bonds and social control have friends who go to church and interact in many community activities. The teenager is not going to have time to commit crime, or think about it because the social bonds he has made would not approve of such behavior. The juvenile had been taught morals, values, and social norms that have consequences with bad behaviors and actions. The teen would not want to diminish the friendship bond and parental bond by committing any criminal activity. The consequences of the actions of the teen has an impact in the social control and behaviors. The teen would not want to disappoint the people he has a strong bond with, and therefore, does not take part in bad behavior.
A person who had little social interaction as a child, and grows up as an adult with low social control will have a higher risk of criminal behavior. The reason for this is the consequences, and actions are not reflected to any social bonds that may impact the decisions he makes. A person who is likely to have a criminal behavior will less likely build and keep relationships. The person will be less likely to hold down a job or education. It is hard for a person who has little social control or social bond to keep and hold these types of scenarios for a long period of time.
“The social bond theory is based on four aspects or forms that correlate or deter criminal behavior” . The first social form is attachment. A person who has deep attachment to family, school, friends, and coworkers are less likely to commit criminal acts because of these strong bonding attachments.
The second bond theory is commitment. The more committed a person is to social activities the less likely he will have time to participate in criminal behavior. A social person who has many community activities they belong to are not going to have time to think and act out a criminal behavior. These types of social people will be less likely to associate with criminal minded people who do not participate and interact in community activities.
The third type of social theory form is in involvement. The more involved a person is in these types of commitments the less chance they will have associating with people who partake in criminal activities. The less involved a person is socially, the greater the chance they will have time to think and act in a criminal manner. People who are not involved socially, and do not have bonds socially are not as likely to worry about consequences as those who have strong social bonds.
The fourth social bond form is belief. The higher social beliefs and morals a person has of what is right and wrong the decreased chance any criminal behavior will take place. If a person has little values, morals, or beliefs the more likely he will be involved in criminal activity. If a person has high regard to morals, and beliefs then he will not want to break those beliefs and suffer the consequences of criminal behavior.
With these four forms of social control instilled in a person from birth to adulthood the better chances that they will choose to stay away from criminal activity. The social control bonds have been put to the test to see if they are accurately correct. There have been many tests that have concluded these social bonds to be true in deterring people from committing crime and delinquent behavior.
Another way to look at this type of social control is how we react to common situations. You are sitting in cafeteria getting ready to eat your food, and the person serving the food asks you to bow your head and pray. Everyone bows their heads even if they normally do not do so before they eat. It is a social control reactions that people do because it is expected behavior in society. If you did not bow your head you would feel awkward and out of place if you were the only one who did not do this.
Another example of Hirshi’s theory would detail following the laws and beliefs. You are driving down a road at night and come upon a red stop light. There is no other vehicles in the vicinity but you stop anyway. This is behavior that is morally and social instilled in you due to control. You could keep on going and run the red light because no one is around to see you, but instead you stop and wait for it to turn green. The reason is that this type of behavior and control is what we have instilled inside of us. We could try and run the light because we know there will not be any chance of getting in trouble, but most of us won’t take that risk. Our actions are controls in what choices we make for every situation in life.
Hirschi’s social bond control theory begins at birth, and reflects on the social attachments that we have. “The social attachments is a main component that can deter or enhance delinquent behavior” . The social involvement and commitment in school activities, church, and community were a factor that had a decrease effect in juvenile delinquent behavior. Those juveniles who had little community, school, and church involvement had an increase in juvenile crime. The less involved the juveniles were socially the greater the options were for committing criminal activities with others in that same delinquent groups. Juveniles who believed in following laws, and rules would less likely have a future of crime than those who neglected beliefs and morals to consequences of action.
Hirschi’s social bond control theory is different from other theories because he focuses on why certain people are not criminals opposed to those who are. Other theorists have researched that the effects of criminal behavior results in learned behavior. Social bond control theory focuses on not what makes a criminal but makes does not make a criminal. This is different than many other theorist and scholars who have contributed to criminology studies. Hirschi’s theory has been studied, researched, and explained in great detail what prevents criminal behavior in people opposed to people who commit criminal behavior. His findings have been proven to be accurate, and makes since as to why people behave concerning social control. Most theorists had not displayed this type of findings, and had not accessed the reasons not all people are criminals.
Some of the disadvantages of Hirschi’s theory is the empirical aspect of low self-control and crime. Other theories believe that low self-control by itself will result in criminal activity. The need for other factors to come into play in relation to low self-control for a person to become a criminal. There is also a debate as to which theory is the most accurate between social bond control and learning. The argument has been heavily debated over the years as to which one has the greatest affect for people to engage in criminal activity as to those who do not.
There is also the disadvantage that criminal behavior is born within us, and every person has the option to grow into that behavior based on social bonding forms. One of the disadvantages of that theory is not cultural or ethical based. Not everyone who is born with little social bonding and attachment end up turning to criminal behavior based on those categories. There are people who have not had any of the social bonding forms and still have deterred from criminal behavior, and turned their life into productive social lifestyle. The odds have not been defeated for everyone. The majority of people who have not had social bonding may have had a taste of criminal behavior. There is people who have had great social bonding and attachment clear through adulthood, but had committed crime into early to mid-adulthood due to other reasons and situations.
Many advantages of Hirshi’s theory is that it had been tested by theorists who thought it would prove wrong, but had proved significantly correct. “Another advantage is the types of test used to measure the data and research used in criminology studies today” . Many teachers, scholars, and criminologists use his theories and implement other ideas into the way peoples bonding scenarios effect society. Hirschi’s theory is one of the most used theories still to this day because it has such high importance, relevance, and accuracy in the cause for criminal behavior.
This theory is a great way to measure crime because of the explanations Hirschi gives in his theory. It makes since in all aspects of behavior based social norms. Society has set behaviors that are done, and most do it by habit because socially it is what is right. Most men who walk into a place of warship will take off his hat. There is no sign that says to do so when entering the building, but it is a social control that people react and do.
Serial killers who had been interviewed, and profiled have had lack of social bonds growing up. They also had lifestyles that would cause lack of self-control, lack of values, and lack of commitment in society. Many serial killers are not able to keep employment for long periods of time, and do not stay in long relationships. The lack of involvement in activities to deter crime was relevant from childhood to adulthood. Other behaviors as juveniles had progressed into the types of crimes committed for these criminals.
Many criminals who had been evaluated were in agreeance that they did not have morals, beliefs and values taught or instilled in them. The consequences of their actions were not concerned due to the lack of beliefs towards laws and rules Hirshci also talks about criminals showing impulsive behaviors due to lack of social control and social bonding. This seems to be true in many criminal cases. A person cannot exhibit something he or she does not know how to do.
People who do not commit crime often will stick with the laws, rules, and authority. These same people with do what they are supposed to, behave the way society expects, and acts in a manner that would make family and friends proud. These same people has the social bond forms of attachment, beliefs, involvement, and commitment that keeps them from interacting with behavior that criminals share. The final advantage of Hirshci’s theory is that it is still being debated today, and people are aware of what the theory involved.
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