SOCL 4461 Louisiana State University Hirschi Social Bond Theory Essay

Hirschi proposes that offenders often lack strong social bonds.

Begin by explaining Hirschi’s theory and how social bonds help or hinder criminal activity.

What are some community programs help children form links and bonds with their community?

Once weakened, can a person’s bonds to society become reattached? What social processes might help reattachment?

Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory
Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory (1969) links the onset of criminality to the weakening of the ties that
bind people to society. In other words, people’s behavior, including criminal activity, is controlled
by their attachment and commitment to conventional institutions, individuals, and processes.
In contrast, people who do not have these attachments are free to violate the law and engage in
deviant behavior. Basically, unattached people-those with few or no social bonds-have little to
lose, whereas people with social bonds and attachments have a lot to lose.
Hirschi’s theory is based on the assumption that all individuals are potential law violators, but that
they are kept under control for fear of damaging their relationships with friends, relatives,
employers, and other individuals and groups that are important to them.
The social bond consists of multiple elements, including:
● Attachment. This is tied to the affection you feel for others (parents, friends, school, etc.) and
how much you care about their opinions and feelings. Youth who are strongly attached to
their parents are less likely to commit crimes, for example.
• Commitment. This refers to the energy and effort expended in conventional lines of action,
such as education, work, etc. The more you have (house, credit, car, family, etc.), the less
likely you are to engage in acts that will jeopardize all this. As a result, youth who are
committed to school and educational achievement are less likely to become delinquent.
• Involvement. When school, recreation, family, etc. take up your time, you have less time to
engage in illegal activities. Youth involved in conventional activities behave in conventional
ways; conversely, those who behave in unconventional behavior are more likely to be
• Belief. Conventional morals, values, and beliefs-such as belief in the law, sharing, etc.-are
not linked to delinquency. Holding positive beliefs (i.e., religious beliefs) is inversely related• Belief. Conventional morals, values, and beliefs-such as belief in the law, sharing, etc.—are
not linked to delinquency. Holding positive beliefs (i.e., religious beliefs) is inversely related
to criminality.
• Family
• Community
Conforming Behavior
• Future
• Career
Personal goals
• School activities
Sports teams
Religious groups
Social clubs
Criminal Behavior
FIGURE 7.3 Elements of the Social Bond
• Honesty
• Morality
• Fairness
• Patriotism

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