Social Control Theory Research Essay

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The social control presumption in criminology postulates that making use of the social learning and socialization process develops self control and lessens the propensity to indulge in antisocial behavior. Ivan Nye developed it in 1958 and claimed that there were four different types of management. It is based on functionalist theories of crime. The different kinds of control include direct, internal, indirect, and control achieved by meeting needs. Threats of punishment are used in direct control to enforce correct conduct, and rewards are given for compliance. Through the superego, internal control seeks to prevent youth from engaging in criminal conduct.(Hirschi, 1969). The indirect control mainly affects the other people that are closely associated with the lawbreaker like the parents or friends. The fourth control measure aims at satisfying the needs of every individual thus evading criminal activity.

There are various features of self-control and crime perceptions which are relevant in evaluating proposed or contemporary criminal integrity policies. The first perspective highlights the constancy of differences that facilitate self-control across an individual’s lifespan since they are recognized during the early stages of life. Low discipline occurs due to the being short of powerful restraining forces in upbringing thus causing high resistance to inhibiting forces later in life, particularly the fairly weak forces present in the criminal justice forces. The second perception emphasizes on the substantial diversity of behaviors and acts that result from low self-control in addition to the extents thus resulting to a common etiology. The theory also suggests that crime motives are inherent to immediate gains that the act provides thus policies seeking to decrease crime by satisfying derived wants may be unnecessary. The theory does not forecast displacement from a crime type, geographical location or progression from plain to sophisticated offenses. Moreover, the theory distinguishes the naturally occurring changes in life and the probability of committing unlawful acts(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 2005). There are various policies that do not address the high predictability of crime and therefore end up mistaking natural changes for agenda effectiveness thus wasting significant resources incapacitating people with no gains being experienced in the society or an individual.

Limitations and Questions Raised

Many criminal integrity policies do not have precise theoretical justifications on how they fare in case of evaluation basing on the expectations derived from crime and self-control theory. The positivistic hypothesis has prevailed with the criminal justice structure practicing rehabilitation as the main goal all through the 20th century. It is assumed that criminals can be changed to law-abiding citizens through various therapeutic techniques with failure to treatment leading to continued criminal deeds. The assumptions have allowed significant judgment to those daunting verdicts on offenders which give judges the basis of sentence length as well as the dangers posed by the offender to the entire society(Hirschi, 1969). The positivist postulations offer part of the validation for trial and parole essential for the creation of separate integrity system for youthful in addition to extended roles for specialists in the criminal justice structure.

However, research has shown that various treatments have little or no impact on the alleged experts’ diagnostic control not being documented. Further inspection has shown that adult and juvenile justice systems are similar and as a result, the system of rehabilitation is disapproved. Positivism and rehabilitation have a strong bond that has eventually resulted to search for alternative justifications to be considered in ruling decisions. Positivism has an avoidance perspective that contradicts with its assumptions about the nature of human beings and effectiveness of punishment since the leaders are not the criminological positivist. Some of the questions that can be posed to challenge positivism are the essence of intimidation that has been posed to offenders through sentencing and how it has helped change the behaviors of the offenders since the suppositions included economist and lawyers who might not be aware of the causes of human acts.

Incapacitation policy is yet another limitation in the social control theory which was adopted in the early 1980s.It is mainly based on evident conclusions that lawbreakers in prison are placed in the facility so as not to commit crimes in the society thus it does not seek to reform the offender but instead it limits the chances of offenders to conduct criminal activities(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 2005). Incapacitation assumes the continuity in aberrant acts since according to the theory, long-term permanence in people’s behavior appears to be reliable to incapacitation. The main consideration in incapacitation is to profitably separate criminals according to the crimes they commit. Further suggestion by various policymakers is that crime can be controlled by isolating chronic criminals thus saving the resources and effort used in reducing crime rates. New policies have been formulated to ease the range of criminal impartiality systems from police cells to prisons thus creating an efficient system that potentially focuses on the few dangerous elements in the society. Execution of discriminatory incapacitation policy is a mechanism that can forecast a sustained pattern of committing crimes through accurate and sufficient proof. The main questions that arise from the policy execution are how incapacitation might help reduce the crime level of an individual after being released from custody and how the ruling is done to determine the period a criminal should be in custody according to crimes they have committed.

Current Event

Among the contemporary events related to the assumption is a journal on sexual abuse and brutality known as Trump and sex industry. The journal illustrates a group of men who are against sexism and have a task to sponsor and monitor the commercial sex industry. The recent election of President Trump in the office is expected to have an extensive involvement of the public on issues regarding the commercial sex business in addition to inappropriate handling of the women in the industry. The journal shows various ways that Trumps administration intends to put into place to protect women as well as the appropriate handling of offenders in the country(Leary, 2016).


Other criminal approaches do not offer clear explanations as to how verdicts are arrived at, unlike the social learning assumption which explains the means of arriving at a ruling. The theory also includes various perspectives like the understanding of the crime cause which can be derived from the history of the criminal from their tender age and the frequency level as well as predicting the likelihood of the alleged crime. The hypothesis is also outstanding in determining the isolation period as compared to other theories since it offers an extensive coverage due to the involvement of various stakeholders in a different occupation in determining a ruling. These help in ensuring that the incapacitated individuals get a reasonable period in prison and in turn minimizing the threats posed by the chronic offender(Hirschi, 1969). Mutually, the general theories of crime and social control have their origins in control systems which have been securitized for many years. In fact, both the theories explain all deviant behaviors and crime with a one-dimensional trait that they do bring about low self-control. Of course, self-control is attributed to many factors which emanate from one dimension. For instance, the self-control model suggests that persons with high self-discipline are capable of being involved in crimes whereas those with low self-control tend to avoid committing a crime (Gottfredson& Hirschi, 1990).


Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (2005). A general theory of crime. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Hirschi, T. (1969). A Control Theory of Delinquence. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.

Leary, M. G. (2016). Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence. Mirror of Justice, 1(11), 2016-05.

July 15, 2023
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