Essays On Self Control Theory

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A range of prominent criminologists offers diverse views in fifteen original essays, providing students with the first proper assessment of self-control theory.

This lucid book addresses important general considerations relevant to the theory, its relationship to other theories of crime, and its relevance to different types of crime.

Hirschi states, “A person may be simply too busy doing conventional things to find time to engage in deviant behavior” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P 219).

If a person is too involved in any legal, legitimate activity, there will simply not be enough time for him or her to commit any crime. The concept of beliefs, as it relates to control theory, is that arguably most people have some sort of belief system that actively contradicts the notion that any person would commit crime because they genuinely believe it to be a good act, thus crime is good.

Erich Goode is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is currently Visiting Scholar at New York University.

He is the editor of a half-dozen anthologies and the author of ten books, including Drugs in American Society."An excellent, balanced exploration of self-control theory that leaves readers with a clear understanding of the limitations as well as the strengths of the theory."—CHOICE"This book provides a good review of the criticism of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theories and a useful summary of common debates and arguments surrounding the role of self-control in crime causation.The second approach that Hirschi argues is that “the deviant reationalizes his behavior so that he can at once violate the rule and maintain his belief in it” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P220).This basically means that as long as an individual is able to rationally and legitimately justify such behavior in his own mind, and he genuinely believes in his justification, then he is free to commit whatever the deviant act may be.Most people of society have “internalized the norms” of said society; meaning that these people (law-abiding citizens) have accepted the laws and norms of society and willingly conform (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218).Those who don’t, however, those who are “insensitive to the opinion of others” are not bound by societal norms and therefore “free to deviate” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218).The first of these elements states that “criminal acts provide immediate gratification of desires” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P228).This element discusses the argument of immediate vs. Those who lack self-control prefer immediate gratification because that is something that they can experience right at that moment.Hirschi proposes that when an individual is alienated from others in society, it is usually due to “active interpersonal conflict” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P217).These conflicts with other people actively weaken social attachments to others, thus alienating the individual which can potentially lead to committing crime (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P217). Commitment is the idea that people who are committed to things that hold value in their lives, such as an education, career, marriage, or family, then they are less likely to commit crime; “the person becomes committed to a conventional line of action, and he is therefore committed to conformity” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218).To explain why an individual such as this would commit a criminal act, Hirschi states that “in the sociological control theory, it can be and is generally assumed that the decision to commit a criminal act may well be rationally determined” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218-219).That is to say, because of the danger and risk associated with crime, a man who commits a criminal act may have acted out of a calculated and seemingly rational decision.


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