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Although the general theory of crime of Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) has received more attention over the past decade than the theory of social control of Hirschi (1969), it is imperative that the latter theory not be ignored. Social control theory asserts that delinquency occurs when the link between individuals and society is weakened or severed. Hirschi proposed that the four factors include social cohesion, namely attachment, engagement, participation and trust. Due to the shortcomings of social control theory’s ability to explain criminal behaviour, Gottfredson developed a general theory of crime collaborating with Hirschi (1990). The authors’ theoretical focus is that any illegal activity is a manifestation of a single underlying cause, which is “poor self-control “. According to their theory, the six described dimensions, which they call, include a one-dimensional characteristic of low self-control.  This thesis was developed to test each theory’s usefulness and determine which theory has the best explanatory power in terms of delinquency.  At the same time, the dimensions of each theory were analyzed to determine the offences that were best explained. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, individual questions were constructed on a scale that included dimensions of each theory. The dependent variable, crime, was measured by a total of questions to shape the global scope of crime and the scales related to drugs, theft, vandalism and violence. The sample was made up of 1144 children from 1213 years old.  The results of this study partially support the researchers’ hypothesis, according to which the theory of self-control is better able to explain delinquent behaviour than social control theory. However, the two theories put together are even more powerful. The second hypothesis that behavioural self-control measures would be able to better explain delinquent behaviour in than behavioural self-control measures was confirmed in the results of this study support the incorporation of a physical feedback dimension when measuring the concept of self-control. Overall, this study demonstrates the power of general theory to explain delinquency, vandalism, and violence as a whole. In contrast, social control theory is more consistent with explanations related to drugs and flight.


Self-control theory, social control theory, deviation, control.


[1]Development Criminology is concerned with describing and explaining internal changes in deviant behaviour throughout life. This article focuses on personal development in the context of a community environment. It extends the theory of multi-layered general deviance with postulates of the evolutionary interaction between self-control and social control.  we use the term control by its third letter definition in Webster’s dictionary; “a mechanism used to regulate and guide the operation of a system.” This concept is consistent with Gibbs’ sociological definition of control (1989; 23): “Control is the overt behaviour of people who believe that (1) behaviour increases the likelihood of an event to occur. The number of subsequent states and (2) increase or decrease is desired. This definition has been central in psychology (Lytton 1990) and social sciences since Comte (Le Blanc, 2004).

The theory of existing exploration of criminology is rather developed. They identify concepts such as related concepts, such as social confusion, variations, controls, etc. These theories also specify the interaction between the concepts of the components. For example, the link theory defines the interaction between participation, attachment, dedication and beliefs. However, the criminal theory does not specify how these descriptions of these explanations have been constructed over time. According to life, they do not describe these phenomena, generating, developing, maintaining, and modifying mechanisms. An exception is to specify how beneficial definitions of differential associations or social learning theories (Lakers, 1998) are advantageous to the theory. 

Over the past 50 years, criminology has seen considerable theoretical activity in the form of theory building, formalization, integration, modeling and theoretical testing (shoemaker 2005). Durkheim, Marx, Trade, Lombroso and Freud. Control theorists have accepted the same basic assumptions about human nature (EMPEY, 1978; Kornhuser, 1978; Shoemaker, 2005). Over the past three decades, social control theory has become the most important empirical criminological theory for explaining deviant behaviour. Current control theories and models are static in nature. They identify the main causes of deviant behaviours, such as weak connections and poor self-control, and state some of these constructs’ interactions. However, they do not practice. The impact of this learning process on deviant behaviour refers to a differential association or social learning. Constraints, modeling, and restriction mechanisms will be called social control, while allocation mechanisms will be called self-control.

Binding, modeling, maturation, and binding mechanisms interact simultaneously and by chance. They have their own lives or ontogeny. Le Blanc’s theory (1997a) asserts that exogenous factors directly impact deviant behaviour, social status, and biological competence. Two of the control mechanisms, linkage and self-control, are prerequisites. They are the foundation of the overall control mechanism. Without associations, models cannot make sense, and constraints cannot work

[2]Crime is inevitable and cannot be eradicated. Sociologists such as Travis Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson argue that theories such as bond theory and self-control theory help society understand the causes of crime. This paper examines the theory of self-control and the theory of bonding and how these two theories explain criminal causation. It also discusses the basic elements of each theory, compares and contrasts the similarities and differences between the two theoretical perspectives, and discusses the improvements needed to strengthen each theory.


The descriptive and secondary quantitative data-based analysis is conducted to understand the legal provision of acid attack victims entitlement to the rights in India and other nations. The data collected is mostly from sources of various books, journals, articles, annual reports published by the government and websites of different governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations.


[3]The concepts of social control and self-control are key characteristics in the field of sociology, and indeed are evolving complex and controversial. While social control theory has been defined as the ability of an individual or group to regulate themselves in an orderly manner according to social norms and moral beliefs instead, self-control refers to individuals or groups taking advantage of opportunities to engage in deviant behaviour and satisfy immediate needs. Something you cannot control.  Social control and self-control theories have also been proposed in the field of criminology as important factors influencing deviant behaviour or individual participation in criminal behaviour throughout the life course.

THE EXPLANATION OF CRIME CONTEXT, MECHANISMS AND DEVELOPMENT” is a book edited by Per-Olof H. Wikstron and Robert J Sampson. This book gives a complete idea about criminal psychology. The explanation of social control theory and self-control theory is explained thoroughly with a basic explanation of the background. Chapter 6 talks about social control and self-control of deviant behaviour in context and the developments and interactions along the life course.

SOCIAL CONTROL THEORY VS SELF CONTROL THEORY essay on lawaspect.com website has beautifully portrayed the meaning of self-control theory, social control theory and the comparisons between the both. “The concept of commitment assumes that the organization of society is such that the interests of most of the people would be endangered if they were to engage in criminal acts”.It also explains about the factors of bonds.


[4]Self-control theory suggests that low levels of self-control lead to an increased risk of crime and delinquency and a range of other risky behaviours. This theory suggests that self-control is almost entirely determined by parents (Hollander Blumoff, 2012). A child’s upbringing determines whether they will exhibit high or low self-control. If a child’s misbehaviour is corrected, the child will have a relatively high degree of self-control. On the other hand, if a child’s misbehaviour is not reprimanded or corrected, that child will have a lower level of self-control.

 Gottfredson and Hirschi defined low levels of self-control using distinct characteristics: instant gratification, physical rather than mental, risky behaviour, unresponsiveness to others (Connor et al. events, 2009). Individuals with poor self-control will fail in situations that require supervision, restrict their behaviour, or situations that require discipline. According to Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), people who lack self-control are not only more likely to engage in risky behaviours, but they tend to do so stubbornly and persistently, regardless of the consequences of those behaviours. That could lead to. These types of people like to take risks and commit crimes and have other risky behaviours like smoking and drinking. Individuals with low self-control tend to be persistent criminals throughout their lives; offences are persistent, stable, and continue into adulthood. This low self-control or impulsivity is caused by the weakening of social bonds such as attachment and trust. When parents supervise poorly and are unable to provide their children with the care and guidance they need, they develop poor self-control. In addition, the values, norms, and beliefs that are instilled in children at an early age are essential in their upbringing. If parents do not have beliefs or values, children will not imitate the same, which will then lead to a life not suitable for power.

People with low self-control need instant gratification; they have no commitment such as career or study. They prefer to commit a crime for the immediate pleasures of the crime, like money or drunkenness. Having a job and a career means investing time and money in education. This is seen as a long term goal that requires them to have a conscience, and they do not have this trait. These individuals do not look at the risks involved in committing a crime or the people they injure as a result of it; their unique perception of their need and the instant reward they get. The self-control crime theory argues that low self-control is a fundamental key component of criminal behaviour. To this end, Gottfredson and Hirschi suggest that there are five factors of self-control. Let us take it one by one :

The first element states that “torts procure the gratification of desires” and thus separates the desires into immediate gratification and slow gratification. This suggests that while individuals who lack self-control prefer instant gratification, as it is something they can experience at the moment, a long-term goal will pay off.

The next factor indicates that “criminal acts are exciting, risky, or thrilling”, and people who lack self-control are more likely to take risks. These people are always looking for the next adrenaline rush and, as a result, engage in risky behaviour. In contrast, people with self-control take a more careful and conscious approach to life, planning everything and, most importantly, playing it safe.

The third factor is “crime has a little long-term benefit” and actually hinders long-term participation. Thus, individuals who lack self-control tend to have unstable work records, relationships, and marriages because they are simply not interested in long-term commitments. In contrast, self-controlled people have specific goals and aspirations of looking to the future and will be beheaded in the future.

The fourth element of self-control theory states that “criminals require little skill or planning”. Theorists argue that criminals are interested in academic fields and that physical skills are not helpful for legitimate skill sets, leaving them vulnerable to a life of crime.

The fifth element is that Individuals who lack self-control are often callous and indifferent to the suffering of others. In this regard, the last and most correct element of this theory is that the “criminal causes pain or discomfort to the victim”.


Hirschi says that everyone has the potential to commit crimes. However, the social ties and relationships they share with friends, family, and other members of society keep them from committing crimes. Social control theory holds that delinquency occurs because of weak social ties. The stronger an individual’s social ties to mainstream society, the less likely they are to participate in them. Activities against social norms. Hirschi asserts that the social relationship that individual shares with society are divided into four main elements: attachment, commitment, participation and trust (Siegel, 2014).

 Attachment is the emotional bond that children share with their parents, friends, teachers, and other members of society. This type of association is displayed in schools, churches, families and other social institutions. A positive attachment to parents is essential for the social development of children; It is at this stage that children receive their traits and personalities, which they will manifest later in the future. Children aspire to be accepted and want to be viewed as supportive by indifferent people who play a valuable role in their lives. Children who never received any form of positive attachment from their parents tend to become defiant in the future.

On the other hand, children who receive attachment, love, and a positive upbringing tend to show their personalities in the same way. Parent-child attachment includes the degree of parental supervision over their children, the quality of parent-child communication and time spent together, and parental knowledge of peers with children (Chui & Chan, 2012). When parents spend quality time with their children, they are properly supervised; this will give parents more insight into their child’s activities and the peers they incorporate.

 In addition, people must be engaged in any business they undertake. They may be committed to someone, an education, or their career. When people commit, they are less likely to be involved in a crime because they are more willing to protect the investments they have worked so hard to make. On the other hand, when people do not commit to anything, they take more risks and engage in criminal activity because they do not have much to lose. For example, engagement can be seen as a teenager doing well in high school to gain admission to an accredited college with career goals. When people participate in extracurricular activities, there is less time and effort to commit or engage in illegal activities.

On the other hand, people who do not engage in a normal form of social activity like sports or religion often end up committing a crime. This is seen in single-family homes, where mothers have two jobs, come home late, and children are left unattended, leaving them at home to look after themselves. They should be left for an after-school program where some sort of supervision is expected. This leaves inactive children with more time to engage in criminal activity. However, Hirschi states that a crime may take only a few minutes to commit. Thus, simply engaging in normal activities is not sufficient to prevent delinquency (as noted in Chui & Chan, 2012).

 Beliefs are values ​​and ethical standards shared by a particular group of people. People who share values ​​and beliefs follow the law and respect others. On the other hand, those who have been raised without any values ​​or beliefs are more prone to illegal behaviour and rebellion against the law. People who share religious beliefs may be subject to more scrutiny to resist temptations to commit a crime. Classical theories of social control argue that the unwanted consequences of crime, including shame, social disapproval or social dissociation, prevent most individuals from experiencing the consequences resulting from bad behaviour (Brauer et al., 2013).

According to Hirshi’s theory, these social or family relationships are based on attachment to people inside and outside the family, including remaining loved ones or those who have a moderating influence on your daily behaviour. School, colleagues, friends and teachers. There are three other significant aspects of an individual’s social control that interact to isolate them from crime.  These aspects include the engagement of an individual in activities in which he has invested time and effort, such as professional or educational goals; activities aimed at promoting other social relationships with others; and deep beliefs in broader social values ​​leave the person little room to engage in deviant activities. Let us understand each element of bond in Hirschi’s theory of social bond.

The first element speaks of the attachment that the individual forms as a person with others in society. Most people in the society have “internalized the norms” of the said society, for example, a law-abiding citizen willing to follow the rules and norms of the society. However, those who do not comply will be shunned by everyone due to their weak social cohesion and have the freedom to deviate and commit crimes.

The second element is about attachment. He said that people who are engaged in legitimate things like education, family and career are less likely to commit crimes because these people are committed to the normal course of action and follow the course of action; however, such undertaking must not be intended to endanger life or other risks leading to criminal conduct.

The third element of the social bond theory is participation, which shows that most of those involved in family or social-related activities are engaged in these activities, and there is little or no room for the crime. As Hirschi rightly pointed out, “A person may just be busy doing routine things and have no time to engage in abnormal behaviour.”

The last element of the bond is faith. Social control theory shows that most people can say that they have certain belief systems, such as morality, values, and the ethics of social behaviour, that contradict the notion that any individual can commit crimes. On the other hand, some people think that they are more likely to commit a crime if they break the law or violate the legal behaviour of society.


[5]Based on the above overview of social control theory and self-control theory, it is obvious that there is no contradiction between the two theories. Since the self-control theory is considered encapsulated by the evolution of Hirschi’s social control theory, the two are obviously complementary or mutually extending. To some extent, it helps explain why more people can commit crimes. . Crime, based on their social relationships and lack of self-control tendency.

While Hirschi’s social control theory places control in the relationship of the individual to society, self-control theory has altered the position of control within the individual. Therefore, we can say that the theory at the micro level works to explain why an individual might commit a crime. The first theory is the macro-level theory that explains the lack of family relationships with others and mistrust in considering social morality. Values ​​that can lead an individual or group to commit crimes.


The theory of self-control raises many questions, such as the fact that it is impossible to determine whether someone will commit a crime based solely on impulse. There are other factors, such as chance, other characteristics, such as mental illness and heredity. Some many other characteristics and circumstances can lead people to commit crimes. I believe that with practice, the level of self-control in consultation and treatment can be improved. Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) believe that the level of self-control can only be formed in the first 810 years of life and that the variation in self-control has no genetic component. Some studies have shown that there is a link between genetics and self-control, and Gottfredson and Husky’s claims are questionable. Hollander Blumoff (2012) pointed out that most existing criminological studies show that genetic factors greatly influence self-control, and genes account for at least 50% of the difference in self-control levels. Based on the results of this research, self-control theory must be redefined to include genetics.

 One of the main elements of the theory of social ties, namely participation, may also involve young people in the crime. The theory of social ties points out that juvenile delinquency who participates in certain types of extracurricular activities or sports activities is less likely. Hirschi (1990) stated that crimes could occur in just a few minutes, so participation in social activities alone is not enough to prevent crime. For example, my son often plays golf on his school’s golf team. Joining the golf team does not stop you from making mistakes; some of your friends on the golf team may be deviant and force you to engage in deviant behaviours. The elements of participation in social bond theory should be reassessed to include the type of participation and personal characteristics related to the selected activity. Participating in traditional activities like religion can also become deviant; there are many stories about Catholic priests who sexually abuse young children. Even in sports activities, athletes use illegal performance-enhancing drugs to improve their performance.

 In short, the theories of Travis Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson, such as social bond theory and self-control theory, can help society understand the causes of crime. Although the theory of social ties explains that strong social ties, such as attachment and participation, can prevent people from committing crimes, negative and deviant participation can actually lead to anti-social behaviours. Self-control theory needs to be reassessed because impulse itself does not make people commit crimes, and genetics and other characteristics may also be a factor.






[4] [MARCEL JOSEPH PARENT] [self control  vs social control as an explanation for delinquency ],[SCHOLAR.UWINDSOR.CA] [(Aug 8 ,2021, 6:31 PM)], [SCHOLAR.UWINDSOR.CA/CGI/].


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