Article

Social Control Theory

Kimberly Kempf-Leonard and Nancy A. Morris

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online July 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0091
Social Control Theory

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Unlike most criminology theories that purport to explain why people offend, control theory offers the justification for why people obey rules. Control theory provides an explanation for how behavior conforms to that which is generally expected in society. Some control theories emphasize the developmental processes during childhood by which internal constraints develop. Social control theories, however, focus primarily on external factors and the processes by which they become effective. Deviance and crime occur because of inadequate constraints. For social control theory, the underlying view of human nature includes the conception of free will, thereby giving offenders the capacity of choice, and responsibility for their behavior. As such, social control theory is aligned more with the classical school of criminology than with positivist or determinist perspectives. For the most part, social control theory postulates a shared value or belief in social norms. Even those who break laws or violate social norms are likely to share the general belief that those rules should be followed. Crime and deviance are considered predictable behaviors that society has not curtailed. Explaining conformity, particularly the process by which people are socialized to obey the rules, is the essence of social control theory. Thus, social control theory focuses on how the absence of close relationships with conventional others can free individuals from social constraints, thereby allowing them to engage in delinquency. Alternatively, other prominent criminological theories focus on how close relationships with delinquent peers or negative relationships with others can lead or compel individuals to commit delinquency.

Article.  6610 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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