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Social Control Theory



Social control theory is used to explain the relationship between society norms and breaking the law. The theory states that the human values, beliefs, norms, and commitment motivate people not to engage in activities that amount to breaking laws. Therefore, the theory argues that if various moral codes are internalized and individuals are made tied to them, people will tend to voluntarily limit their tendency to engage in criminal activities. Hence, the social control theory is concerned with developing ways to reduce the likelihood of an individual to engage in criminality. However, the theory fails to consider the issues related to motivation, but rather states that persons can choose to be involved in various criminal activities, unless those activities are limited through the processes of social learning and socialization (McCarthy, 2010). The theory is of the view that choices and behaviors are controlled by social agreements, contracts as well as arrangements between people. Therefore, morality ends up being created in the process of building and assigning consequences, costs and social order. The given choices are defined as evil, illegal and immoral.

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Social theory is applied in explanation the issue of delinquent behavior. Namely, it is used to explain the relationship that exists between delinquent behaviors in the society and other social bonds. The theory argues that in a society with strong bonds, it is possible to prevent individuals from engaging in antisocial behaviors. On the contrary, in a society where social bonds are weak, people do not fear engaging in crime. Antisocial behaviors in society can only be effectively managed by building a social system that has strong social bonds such as values, norms and morals. People will tend to fear the judgement of others when engaging in antisocial behaviors in a society with strong moral bonds. People who live in a society where social bonds are not that strong will end up engaging in antisocial activities given they would not face too much criticism from the society. For instance, the society where prostitution is regarded as immoral makes individuals engaging in this behavior fear social judgement. The proponents of the social control theory, therefore, state that laws cannot be effective in inhibiting antisocial behaviors like it is in the case of social bonds. Hence, a society can be able to reduce antisocial behaviors in the long run by building a social system where people adhere to strong values, norms and morals.

The social control model is also applied when it comes to crime management in the society. The theory states that crimes can be prevented through the process of social learning and socialization. These two processes help individuals to build self-control systems that tend to reduce the probability of involvement in crime. The theory argues that there are four types of self-control that can be applied in the society to reduce crime being committed by individuals. First of all, direct control can be used by the society. In this case, the punishments are applied for behaviors that are criminal in nature; rewards are applied for good behaviors (Rosenfeld and Messner, 2011). Secondly, internal control can also be used, where superego helps people refrain from committing crime. Thirdly, indirect control can also be used to indulge people from engaging in crime. This form of control tends to use figures in the society that influence behavior to encourage people refrain from criminal activities. Finally, control can be attained through the satisfaction of one’s needs. In this situation, the society ensures that the basic needs of individuals are met to restrain them from taking part in criminal activities.

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