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Control theory, Anomie theory and Strain theory

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Control theory, Anomie theory and Strain theory provide very different explanations of why people commit crimes based upon assumptions about how humans function. Control theory suggests that humans are naturally drawn to breaking the law. Humans are driven to fulfill their needs and desires. Crime provides one method by which humans can reach their goals. Control theorists would thus ask why everyone does not turn to crime to meet their wants and needs. The question shifts from the typical why do people commit crime to why do people not commit crime (Cullen and Agnew, 2011). Hirschi suggest that crime and social bonds are linked, such that crime occurs in absence of a strong social bond. The four elements of the social bonds are attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. These four elements together and independently work to reduce the motivation to commit crime. An uncommitted person with a weak connection to society will have little to lose and thus little stopping them from committing crimes. A person with strong social bonds will have a great deal to lose by engaging in deviant behavior creating a very strong motivator to avoid crime and other deviant behaviors (Hirschi, 2011). Gottfredson and Hirschi argue that a person's self control is also related to their ability to avoid crime. People with low self-control are unable to resit the impulses to commit crime. Those with more self-control are able to prevent themselves from falling to the temptations of crime (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 2011). Another explanation for both why people do not commit crime and why these methods fail is provided by Sykes and Matza. They argue that people people, through socialization, learn to hold socially normative beliefs that prevent them...

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Hirschi, T. (2011). Social Bond Theory. In F. T. Cullen & R. Agnew (Authors), Criminological theory: past to present : essential readings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lipset, S. (1994). The state of American Sociology. Sociological Forum, 9(2), 199-220.

Merton, R. (2011). Social Structure and Anomie. In F. T. Cullen & R. Agnew (Authors), Criminological theory: past to present : essential readings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rosenfeld, R., & Messner, S. (2011). Crime and the American Dream. In F. T. Cullen & R. Agnew (Authors), Criminological theory: past to present : essential readings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sykes, G., & Matza, D. (2011). Techniques of Neutralization. In F. T. Cullen & R. Agnew (Authors), Criminological theory: past to present : essential readings. New York: Oxford University Press.