The issue of human violence is also a major topic within the academic discipline of psychology. As biosocial theorists do, psychologists focus on how individual characteristics may interact with the social environment to produce a violent event. However, rather than focus on the biological basis of crime, psychologists focus on how mental processes impact individual propensities for violence. Psychologists are often interested in the association between learning, intelligence, and personality and aggressive behaviour. In this section of the report, we briefly review some of the major psychological perspectives that have attempted to explain violent behaviour. These ...view middle of the document...
Control theorists argue that without such bonds, crime is an inevitable outcome (Lilly et al., 1995). Unlike other theories that seek to explain why people engage in deviant behaviour, control theories take the opposite approach, questioning why people refrain from offending (Akers and Sellars, 2004). As a result, criminality is seen as a possibility for all individuals within society, avoided only by those who seek to maintain familial and social bonds. According to Hirschi, these bonds are based on attachment to those both within and outside of the family, including friends, teachers, and co-workers; commitment to activities in which an individual has invested time and energy, such as educational or career goals; involvement in activities that serve to both further bond an individual to others and leave limited time to become involved in deviant activities; and finally, belief in wider social values. These four aspects of social control are thought to interact to insulate an individual from criminal involvement (Siegel and McCormick, 2006).
Those seeking to test the strength of this theory as it specifically relates to young people have closely examined bonds with family, schools, community, and religion to determine the extent to which such bonds impact offending. The following discusses a selection of the literature on social control theory as it pertains to youth delinquency and offending.
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Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews
Volume 5, Chapter 6:
This section considers four theories that are commonly classified as “strain theories.” These theories include anomie theory (Merton, 1938), institutional anomie theory (Messner and Rosenfeld, 1994), general strain theory (Agnew, 1985 and 1992), and relative deprivation theory (Crosby, 1976; Davis, 1959; Gurr, 1970; Runciman, 1966). Each theory argues that strain creates pressures and incentives to engage in criminal coping as a response to the strain experienced, though each differs with respect to what constitutes the most important sources of strain.
Robert Merton published his “Social Structure and Anomie” in 1938. In this article, Merton set forth a theoretical framework for explaining crime rates that differed from the Chicago school criminologists. For example, theorists such as Shaw and McKay (1942) held that urban slum areas foster criminal behaviour through the generational transmission of deviant cultural value. Thus, social disorganization theory assumes that the rejection of conventional middle-class values results in high rates of crime in urban slum communities. Merton, on the other hand, argued that it was the rigid adherence to conventional American values that caused high rates of crime and deviance. In essence, he believed that the widespread conformity to American culture in general, and the American obsession with economic...