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Hirschi’s Social Control Theory

The social control theory takes criminology, law-breaking, and crimes as its principal focus (Lynch, 2005). While most of the criminology theories attempt to explain why people commit crimes or break the law, social control theory tries to explain why people do not break the law (Lynch, 2005). It was developed by Travis Hirschi in the late 1960s to shed light on another perspective in criminology (Lynch, 2005).

He published this in his classic work, “Causes of Delinquency” in 1969 (Jensen, 2003, p. 2). More researches have been done to affirm this study and its findings. The social control theory has the premise that people have the predisposition to break the law or “toward criminal behavior” (Lynch, 2005). In addition to this, Hirschi explained that “law breaking is often the most immediate source of gratification or conflict resolution…” (Jensen, 2003, p.

1) Hirschi became interested in the question of “What inhibits people from engaging in criminal behavior? ” considering the premise that they have such tendencies to be involved in one. To this, Hirschi stated that the wide range of activities that people engage to, including law-breaking, is inhibited by the socialization process and social learning (Jensen, 2003, p. 1). The social bonds formed with the different social groups also play an important role in keeping a person from sinking into delinquency.

Among the groups are the family and friends, to which a person should be strongly tied to, in order for them to have a concept of social sanction. Ziggy, because of the fact that he feels “detached” from the society, conforms to the theory of Hirschi. His delinquency can be explained by his lack of interaction with the society that also prevents him from socializing and from creating social bonds.

With this, he does not take into account the normally-accepted behavior in the community where he resides because he was not able to acquire them through social learning as is the result of his detachment from the society.


Jensen, G. F. (2003). Social Control Theories. In R. A. Wright (Ed. ) Encyclopedia of Criminology. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Retrieved January 06, 2008, from http://sitemason. vanderbilt. edu/files/l/l3Bguk/soccon. pdf. Lynch, J. P. (2005). Criminology. In Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.

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