What Type of Theory Is Social Bond Theory?


Martha Robinson

What Type of Theory Is Social Bond Theory?

Social bond theory is a well-known criminological theory that focuses on the factors that prevent individuals from engaging in criminal behavior. Developed by sociologist Travis Hirschi in 1969, this theory suggests that the strength of an individual’s bonds to society determines their likelihood of engaging in deviant behavior.

The Four Elements of Social Bond Theory

Social bond theory proposes four main components that contribute to an individual’s bond with society:

  • Attachment: This element refers to the emotional connection between individuals and their social environment. Those who have strong attachments, such as close relationships with family, friends, or community members, are less likely to engage in criminal activities.
  • Commitment: The commitment component relates to an individual’s investment in conventional activities such as education, career, or personal goals.

    When individuals have a lot at stake, they are less likely to risk it by participating in criminal behavior.

  • Involvement: Involvement refers to an individual’s participation in legitimate activities such as sports, hobbies, or community organizations. When individuals are actively engaged in these activities, they have less time and opportunity for criminal involvement.
  • Belief: Belief represents an individual’s acceptance and adherence to societal norms and values. Those who hold strong moral beliefs and respect for authority are less likely to deviate from societal expectations.

Social Bond Theory and Crime

Hirschi argued that when these four elements are weak or lacking in an individual’s life, they are more prone to engage in criminal behavior. According to social bond theory, individuals with weak social bonds are more likely to seek immediate gratification, have a higher tolerance for deviance, and disregard the potential consequences of their actions.

Furthermore, social bond theory suggests that these bonds can change over time. For instance, a person who loses their job or experiences a breakdown in relationships may become more susceptible to criminal behavior due to weakened attachments and commitments.

The Significance of Social Bond Theory

Social bond theory is highly influential in criminology as it provides insights into the factors that contribute to criminality. By understanding the importance of strong social bonds, policymakers and practitioners can develop strategies to strengthen these bonds and prevent individuals from engaging in criminal activities.

In conclusion, social bond theory categorizes itself as a control theory within criminology. It emphasizes the significance of strong attachments, commitments, involvements, and beliefs in preventing individuals from participating in criminal behavior. By recognizing these elements and their influence on human behavior, society can work towards building stronger bonds and reducing crime rates.