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Social Control Theory

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Social control theory has become one of the more widely accepted explanations in the field of criminology in its attempt to account for rates in crime and deviant behavior. Unlike theories that seek to explain why people engage in deviant behavior, social control theories approach deviancy from a different direction, questioning why people refrain from violating established norms, rules, and moralities. The theory seeks to explain how the normative systems of rules and obligations in a given society serve to maintain a strong sense of social cohesion, order and conformity to widely accepted and established norms. Central to this theory is a perspective which predicts that deviant behavior is much more likely to emerge when social constraints and bonds between the individual and rest of society are either weak or simply not present. The bonds that discourage crime are strengthen through relationships between the individual and social institutions such as the family, schools, judicial/policing systems etc. Here, crime and delinquency simply become the products of the systematic failure of social supervision over the deviant individual. While social control theory places great importance upon the normative morality in a given society, the theory still presumes variations in morality in the given society. Derivative hypotheses of social control theory such as self-control theory see crime as the result of the lack of personal self-control (rather than societal control) over deviant desires, abnormal personality attributes and antisocial constitutions. Nevertheless, social control theory stresses the idea that people in a society are likely to commit delinquent or criminal acts when the forces restraining such actions a... ... middle of paper ... ...erica have largely implemented these practices as viable methods to deter crime. The result may have in part produced the overwhelming rates of incarceration and post-incarceration recidivism. While the correlative relationship amongst the four variables may account for some crimes, it is hard to believe that all four variables can account for all crimes. Presumably, those who commit financial crimes on the scale of Bernie Maddoff are often strongly attached to authority figures, committed to normative aspirations, and deeply involved and committed to conventional behavior for most of their lives. Nevertheless, these crimes still occur. Also, the theory seems to merely switch weak social bonds as a cause for deviant behavior as opposed to its inverse; thus this circular logic appears to not make any substation development in reference to why such events occur.
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