Social Control Theory is a criminological theory that seeks to explain why people conform to societal norms and laws. It posits that individuals are naturally inclined towards engaging in deviant behavior, but are deterred from doing so by the social bonds they have with their peers, family, and community. These bonds act as a form of control, preventing individuals from committing crimes or engaging in other forms of deviant behavior.
The Basics of Social Control Theory
According to Social Control Theory, humans are inherently self-interested and inclined towards deviant behavior. However, social bonds and attachments prevent people from acting on these impulses. These bonds include things like family relationships, friendships, community involvement, and religious affiliations.
The Role of Social Bonds
Social bonds act as a form of control because they create a sense of obligation and responsibility towards others. When individuals feel connected to their community or family members, they are less likely to engage in behavior that may harm them. This is because they do not want to damage these relationships or lose the support of those around them.
Parents play a crucial role in developing social bonds with their children. Children who have strong attachments to their parents are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior because they do not want to disappoint or upset their parents.
The Importance of Community Involvement
Community involvement is also an essential aspect of Social Control Theory. When individuals feel connected to their community, they are more likely to conform to its norms and values. This is because they want to maintain positive relationships with those around them.
Religious affiliations can also act as a form of social control. Religious institutions provide a sense of belonging and attachment for their members. This attachment can discourage individuals from engaging in deviant behavior because it may conflict with the values and beliefs of their religion.
Critiques of Social Control Theory
While Social Control Theory is a widely accepted criminological theory, it is not without its critiques. One critique is that it does not account for individuals who do not have strong social bonds or attachments. These individuals may be more likely to engage in deviant behavior because they do not feel a sense of obligation or responsibility towards others.
Another critique is that Social Control Theory does not address the root causes of deviant behavior, such as poverty or mental illness. While social bonds may deter some individuals from engaging in deviant behavior, they may not be enough to counteract the effects of these underlying issues.
In conclusion, Social Control Theory posits that social bonds and attachments act as a form of control, preventing individuals from engaging in deviant behavior. While this theory has been widely accepted in criminology, it is not without its critiques. However, it remains an essential framework for understanding why people conform to societal norms and laws and how we can prevent deviant behavior.