+1443 776-2705 panelessays@gmail.com
  

Social Bonding and Control Theories

INTRODUCTION

Some proponents insist that control theory is entirely different from all other theories of crime because rather than trying to determine why some people deviate from social and legal norms, it asks: Why does anyone conform? Why don’t we all violate the rules?

In control theories, [this] question has never been adequately answered. The question remains, why do men obey the rules of society? Deviance is taken for granted; conformity must be explained. (Hirschi, 1969:10)

The answer offered by control theory is that we conform because social controls prevent us from committing crimes. Whenever these controls break down or weaken, deviance is likely to result (Reiss, 1951). Control theory argues that people are motivated to conform by social controls but need no special motivation to violate the law. That comes naturally in the absence of controls. This “natural motivation” assumption does not necessarily refer to inborn tendencies to crime. Rather, it refers to the assumption that there is no individual variation in motivations to commit crime; the impetus toward crime is uniform or evenly distributed across society (Agnew, 1993). Because of this uniform motivation to commit crime, we will all push up against the rules of society and break through them unless we are controlled. Thus control theorists assert that their objective is not to explain crime; they assume everyone would violate the law if they could just get away with it. Instead, they set out to explain why we do not commit crime. For instance, Travis Hirschi, the leading control theorist, stated

The question “Why do they do it?” is simply not the question the theory is designed to answer. The question is “Why don’t we do it?” There is much evidence that we would if we dared. (Hirschi, 1969:34; emphasis added)

Later statements by Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson have similarly drawn a sharp contrast between control theory and all other theories of criminal behavior, which they have referred to as “positivistic.” They describe positivistic theories as having nothing to do with what prevents crime but only with what factors positively motivate people to commit crimes. In their view, positivistic theories assume that everyone will conform in the absence of that motivation; in contrast, control theories assume that crime will occur unless prevented by strong social and personal controls (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). This assumption of universal motivation to crime has been incorporated into other recent theoretical models (see Wilcox, Land, and Hunt, 2003).

We disagree with this stark distinction between control theory and positivist theory. It is true that all versions of control theory tend to focus more on social relationships that curb crime than on those that promote crime. However, different control theories vary considerably in the extent to which they limit or exclude the study of the positive motivations behind crime. Not all control theorists simply assume that everyone is equally motivated to deviate, nor do all confine themselves only to the problem of identifying influences toward conformity. Some control theorists have specifically incorporated the crime-motivating factors of personality, social environment, or situation into their own theories (Reckless, 1967; Briar and Piliavin, 1965).

F. Ivan Nye (1958) argued for a multi-causal model that treats most crime as a result of the failure of social controls but allows that “such ‘positive’ factors [personality or a delinquent subculture] sometimes combine with delinquent behavior as the product” (Nye, 1958:5). Hirschi (1969) himself rejected the assumption of an inherent impulse to delinquency. He proposed that the “natural motivation” assumption in control theory must be modified to recognize that there are some inducements to delinquency, such as the approval of delinquent peers, that must be considered in addition to the inhibitors of delinquency. The assumption that everyone is naturally motivated to commit deviant acts is not crucial to any version of control theory. In fact, some control theories deliberately include factors that induce crime. Hirschi’s social bonding theory and Gottfredson’s and Hirschi’s self-control theory have some motivational and positivistic elements in them (see Cochran et al., 1998; Wiebe, 2003).

Consequently, there is really not much difference between control theory and other theories in the type of questions about crime that each tries to answer. Whatever their other differences, all theories of crime, including control theory, ultimately propose to account for variations in criminal and delinquent behavior. They do not attempt, for example, to account for variation in occupational behavior, meritorious achievement, or prosocial contributions to the welfare of society. Thus control theories have the same dependent variables (crime, delinquency, and deviance) as other criminological theories. Empirical tests of control theories measure these variables in exactly the same way (with official and self-report data) as do tests of other theories. If the concept and measurement of the dependent variable are essentially the same, what difference does it make whether one claims that the central question involves committing a crime or that it involves refraining from a crime? In research on control and other theories, criminal or delinquent behavior is defined as the commission of some act(s) in violation of the law; conformity is defined as the absence of those acts. Conformity and crime are two sides of the same coin. It makes no meaningful difference which of the two a theory claims to explain, because to account for one accounts for the other. Theories vary in the extent to which they emphasize one side of the coin, whether it be the motivation for crime or the restraints on crime. It would be fair to contrast the stress on motivations to crime in some theories with the stress on inhibitors of crime in control theory (Agnew, 1993). But the difference is a matter of degree, not a qualitative difference. For this reason, it is difficult to divide explanations of crime into two mutually exclusive categories based on whether they try to explain either conformity or crime.

EARLY CONTROL THEORIES

Reiss’s and Nye’s Theories of Internal and External Controls

The sociological concept of social control includes both socialization, in which a person acquires self-control, and the control over the person’s behavior through the external application of social sanctions, rewards for conformity, and punishments for deviance, with the understanding that the applications of sanctions is a major process by which socialization occurs. Albert J. Reiss (1951) provided one of the earliest applications of this concept to criminology by attributing the cause of delinquency to the failure of “personal” and “social” controls. Personal controls are internalized, whereas social controls operate through the external application of legal and informal social sanctions. Nye (1958) later expanded on this and identified three main categories of social control that prevent delinquency:

1.Direct control, by which punishment is imposed or threatened for misconduct and compliance is rewarded by parents.

2.Indirect control, by which a youth refrains from delinquency because his or her delinquent act might cause pain and disappointment for parents or others with whom one has close relationships.

3.Internal control, by which a youth’s conscience or sense of guilt prevents him or her from engaging in delinquent acts.

Nye recognized that direct controls could be exercised through formal or legal sanctions, but he emphasized informal, indirect controls in the family. He also argued that the more adolescents’ needs for affection, recognition, security, and new experiences are met within the family, the less they will turn to meeting those needs in unacceptable ways outside the family. It would seem, however, that Nye did not mean this to be a separate category of control. Rather, the insufficient satisfaction of youngsters’ needs within the family, coupled with the fuller satisfaction of their needs outside the family, appears to be one of the factors that positively motivates them to commit delinquency. Therefore, this is one type of motivation toward delinquent behavior that must be counteracted by direct and indirect controls if that delinquency is to be prevented.

Reckless’s Containment Theory

At about the same time Nye was formulating his control theory, Walter Reckless (Reckless, Dinitz, and Murray, 1956; Reckless, 1961) proposed the “containment” theory of delinquency and crime. His containment theory was built on the same concepts of internal and external control, which Reckless termed “inner” and “outer” containment. Reckless went beyond this, however, to include factors that motivate youth to commit delinquent acts (i.e., “pushes” and “pulls” toward delinquency). The basic proposition in containment theory is that these inner and outer pushes and pulls will produce delinquent behavior unless they are counteracted by inner and outer containment. When the motivations to deviance are strong and containment is weak, crime and delinquency are to be expected. Outer containment includes parental and school supervision and discipline, strong group cohesion, and a consistent moral front. Inner containment consists primarily of a strong conscience or a “good self-concept,” which renders one less vulnerable to the pushes and pulls of a deviant environment, is the product of socialization in the family, and is essentially formed by age 12. This self-concept hypothesis is the only part of the containment theory that has been systematically tested. Reckless and his associates conducted research on boys’ self-concepts in high-delinquency areas (Reckless et al., 1956; Scarpitti et al., 1960). They found, in support of the theory, that boys with good self-concepts at age 12 were less likely to be arrested or to exhibit delinquent behavior by age 16. More recent research has also demonstrated support for Reckless’s containment theory in explaining unethical decision making, with the evidence pointing toward the factors of outer containment as being more influential relative to the factors of inner containment (Kennedy, 2015).

Sykes and Matza: Techniques of Neutralization and Drift

Gresham Sykes and David Matza proposed a theory in 1957 that explained delinquent behavior as the result of adolescents using techniques of neutralization. These techniques are justifications and excuses for committing delinquent acts, which are essentially inappropriate extensions of commonly accepted rationalizations found in the general culture. Believing in these neutralizing definitions does not mean that delinquents totally reject the values of conventional society or that they have a set of values that directly contradicts general cultural values. It is simply that they have a set of subterranean values that circumvent, and rationalize deviations from, conventional values (Matza and Sykes, 1961). In stating their theory, Sykes and Matza left no doubt that they considered techniques of neutralization to be types of “definitions favorable” to crime and delinquency, as referred to in Sutherland’s differential association theory.1 Nevertheless, Sykes and Matza’s theory is viewed by many criminologists not as an extension of differential association theory but as a type of control theory. This interpretation of Sykes and Matza came about principally because Matza (1964) later incorporated neutralization ideas into his drift theory of delinquency. Drift theory proposes that the techniques of neutralization are ways in which adolescents can obtain “episodic release” from conventional moral restraints. It is this periodic evasion of conventional morality that allows the adolescent to drift into and out of delinquency. If conventional beliefs are seen as controlling deviance, then neutralizing those beliefs represents a weakening of social control. It is probably for this reason that, although Matza (1964) made few references to internal or external controls, his drift theory and by extension his and Sykes’s theory of the techniques of neutralization have usually been classified as control theory. Neutralization is viewed not as a form of a definition favorable to delinquency as originally stated by Sykes and Matza but as a weakening of inner containment (Ball, 1968) or as a breaking of the bonds to society (Minor, 1981).

This interpretation of techniques of neutralization as a type of control theory is not consistent with the way Hirschi viewed them in his original statement of social bonding theory. Hirschi (1969:199) recognized that the identification of the techniques of neutralization by Sykes and Matza was their “attempt to specify the content of the ‘definitions favorable to violation of law,’” not an attempt to propose a control theory. Further, although Hirschi incorporated measures of techniques of neutralizations as indicators of “belief” (see the following) in testing his theory, he rejected Sykes and Matza’s central concept that applying the techniques of neutralization is the delinquent’s way of breaking the bond of strongly held conventional beliefs. Instead, he proposed that endorsement of the techniques of neutralization simply indicates that general beliefs are weakly held by delinquents in the first place.

Costello (2000) also viewed techniques of neutralization as different from control theory. She found that delinquents who endorse “police-related” neutralization score higher on measures of “self-esteem” (which she interprets as consistent with “neutralization theory”), but delinquents who use “general” neutralizing techniques do not have higher self-esteem (which she interprets as consistent with “control theory”; Costello, 2000:308). Maruna and Copes (2005) did not separate techniques of neutralization from control theory. They pointed out the links between techniques of neutralization and such cognitive processes as attribution, locus of control, moral disengagement, and cognitive dissonance. Their references to basic cognitive processes underscored the links of techniques of neutralization to symbolic interactionism and definitions favorable to law violation.

Topalli (2005) demonstrated that neutralization can also mitigate guilt anticipated by “hardcore” offenders who violate their own code of the streets by snitching or refraining from retribution against an individual who victimized them. Similarly, in interviews with over 60 active drug dealers, Dickinson and Jacques (2019) found that the drug dealers tended to preemptively neutralize their feelings of guilt by constructing an identity that runs counter to the commonly held perceptions of “bad drug dealers.” In addition, Dickinson and Jacques (2019) collected evidence suggesting that the types of neutralization techniques that are invoked can also be dependent on sociodemographic differences as well as differences in the social structural context.

In other research, adherence to neutralizing attitudes has been found to be moderately related to delinquent and criminal behavior, but again this seems to be because such attitudes favorably dispose individuals to violate the law rather than function to release them from the restraints of conventional or moral beliefs (Hindelang, 1970, 1973; Hollinger, 1991). Research using longitudinal data has demonstrated that neutralizations precede delinquency but that delinquency does not lead to change in neutralization over time (Morris and Copes, 2012). Moral disengagement has also been shown to vary among offenders using longitudinal data, with females and whites being disproportionately represented among groups with lower levels of moral disengagement relative to groups with higher levels of moral disengagement (Cardwell, Piquero, Jennings, Copes, Schubert, and Mulvey, 2015).

HIRSCHI’S SOCIAL BONDING THEORY

All of the earlier control theories were superseded by the version proposed by Travis Hirschi (1969), who remains today the major control theorist. His control theory is usually referred to as social bonding theory. Hirschi’s social bonding theory, and his self-control theory proposed in collaboration with Michael Gottfredson, are what most criminologists today mean when they refer to control theory. Control theorists are the most frequently cited in the criminological literature (Cohn and Farrington, 1999).

The full statement of Hirschi’s control theory was published in Causes of Delinquency (1969). The theory presented in the book is an internally consistent, coherent, and parsimonious theory that is applicable to any type of criminal or deviant behavior, not only delinquency. Hirschi formulated a control theory that brought together elements from all previous control theories and offered new ways to account for delinquent behavior. He not only laid out the assumptions, concepts, and propositions in a lucid fashion but also provided clear empirical measures for each major concept. Then he reported systematic tests of the theory based on data from his own major study of self-reported delinquency using a sample of the general adolescent population in Contra Costa County, California. His combination of theory construction, conceptualization, operationalization, and empirical testing was virtually unique in criminology at that time and stands as a model today (Kempf-Leonard, 2019; Costello and Laub, 2020).

The Central Concepts and Propositions of Social Bonding Theory

Hirschi’s (1969:16) theory begins with the general proposition that “delinquent acts result when an individual’s bond to society is weak or broken.” There are four principal elements that make up this bond—attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. The stronger these elements of social bonding with parents, adults, schoolteachers, and peers, the more the individual’s behavior will be controlled in the direction of conformity. The weaker they are, the more likely it is that the individual will violate the law. These four elements are viewed by Hirschi as highly intercorrelated; the weakening of one will probably be accompanied by the weakening of another.

Attachment to Others

Attachment to others is the extent to which we have close affectional ties to others, admire them, and identify with them so that we care about their expectations. The more insensitive we are to others’ opinions, the less we are constrained by the norms that we share with them; therefore, the more likely we are to violate these norms.

Although Hirschi later took a different position in presenting his and Gottfredson’s self-control theory (see the following), in proposing social bonding theory he argues that concepts such as self-control, internalization of norms, internal control, indirect control, personal control, and conscience are too subjective. They cannot be observed and measured. He contends that self-control was most often used by earlier control theorists in a tautological way; that is, they simply assumed that internal controls were weak when people committed criminal or delinquent behavior. Hirschi argued that attachment is a better concept than self-control, because it avoids the tautology problem and because all the concepts of internal self-control can be subsumed under the concept of attachment. “The essence of internalization of norms, conscience, or superego thus lies in the attachment of the individual to others” (Hirschi, 1969:18).

Hirschi emphasizes that attachment to parents and parental supervision are important in controlling delinquency and maintaining conformity. But he also stresses that attachment to peers can control delinquent tendencies. Although he often uses the phrase “attachment to conventional others,” Hirschi maintained that it really does not matter to whom one is attached. It is the fact of attachment to other people, not the character of the people to whom one is attached, that determines adherence to or violation of conventional rules:

Holding delinquency (or worthiness) of friends truly constant at any level, the more one respects or admires one’s friends, the less likely one is to commit delinquent acts. We honor those we admire not by imitation, but by adherence to conventional standards. (Hirschi, 1969:152; parentheses in original)

The stronger the attachment, the less likely the child is to be delinquent. This proposition appears to hold true even if the “others” to whom one is attached are themselves delinquent, a strong argument for the view that all accept conventional patterns of conduct as ultimately desirable. (Hirschi, 1969:229)

Therefore, according to social bonding theory, even for the juvenile attached to friends who are delinquent, the stronger the attachment to those friends, the less likely he or she will tend to be delinquent. The delinquent tends to have “cold and brittle” relationships with everyone, to be socially isolated, and to be less attached to either conventional or delinquent friends than the nondelinquent (Hirschi, 1969:141). Similarly, the more adolescents are attached to parents, the less likely they are to be delinquent, even if the parents are themselves criminal or deviant.

Commitment

Commitment refers to the extent to which individuals have built up an investment in conventionality or a “stake in conformity” (Toby, 1957) that would be jeopardized or lost by engaging in law violation or other forms of deviance. Investment in conventional educational and occupational endeavors builds up this commitment. The greater the commitment, the more one risks losing by nonconformity. The cost of losing one’s investment in conformity prevents one from norm violation. Commitment, therefore, refers to a more or less rational element in the decision to commit crime. (See the discussion of rational choice theory in Chapter 2.)

Involvement

Involvement refers to one’s engrossment in conventional activities, such as studying, spending time with the family, and participation in extracurricular activities. One is restrained from delinquent behavior because one is too busy, too preoccupied, or too consumed in conforming pursuits to become involved in nonconforming pursuits.

Belief

The concept of belief in social bonding theory is defined as the endorsement of general conventional values and norms, especially the belief that laws and society’s rules in general are morally correct and should be obeyed. The concept does not necessarily refer to beliefs about specific laws or acts, nor does it mean that people hold deviant beliefs that “require” them to commit crime. In fact, Hirschi argued that, if deviant beliefs are present, then there is nothing to explain. What needs explaining is why people violate rules in which they already believe. Hirschi answered that their belief in the moral validity of norms and laws has been weakened. “The less a person believes he should obey the rules, the more likely he is to violate them” (Hirschi, 1969:26).

Measures of Social Bonding Concepts

Hirschi (1969) provided clear measures for the four principal elements of the social bond. Most research on this theory has since used Hirschi’s or similar measures. A review of them will help us to understand the results of the research on social bonding theory.

An adolescent’s attachment to parents is measured by close parental supervision and discipline, good communication and relationships of the adolescent with parents, and his or her affectional identification with parents (e.g., he or she would like to be the same kind of person as the parent). Academic achievement in school (as indicated by grades, test scores, and self-perception of scholastic ability) is taken as indicative of commitment, involvement, and belief, as well as attachment. Attachment to the school is directly measured by positive attitudes toward school, a concern for teachers’ opinions of oneself, and an acceptance of the school’s authority. Attachment to peers is measured by affectional identification with and respect for the opinions of best friends.

Adolescents’ commitment to conventional lines of action refers to their desire and pursuit of conventional goals. Premature engagement in adult activities by adolescents, such as smoking, drinking, or owning a car, indicates a lack of commitment to the achievement of educational goals. Commitment to education is measured both by educational aspirations (e.g., completing more than a high school education) and achievement orientation. Commitment is also measured by occupational aspirations and expectations. Involvement in conventional activities is measured by asking about time spent with family and friends, doing homework, sports, recreation, hobbies, dating, and part-time work.

Belief is measured by reference to values relative to the law and the conventional value system. This includes the extent to which an adolescent has general respect for the police and the law, believes that the law should be obeyed, does not endorse the techniques of neutralization, and endorses values such as the importance of education.

Empirical Validity of Social Bonding Theory

Hirschi’s own research generally showed support for the theory. He found that, except for involvement, the weaker the bonds, the higher the probability of delinquency. However, he found delinquency to be most strongly related to association with delinquent friends, a finding not anticipated by the theory. Similarly, later research has found that attachment to peers leads to conformity only when the peers themselves are conventional. Contrary to what Hirschi hypothesized, those who are strongly attached to delinquent friends are themselves more likely to be delinquent (Conger, 1976; Elliott et al., 1985; Junger-Tas, 1992; Warr, 2002), a finding more in line with social learning theory than with social bonding theory. Similarly, although Hirschi hypothesized that the relationships in which delinquents participate are “cold and brittle,” deviant youth have relationships with others, including romantic partners, that are no less intimate and stable than conforming youth (Kandel and Davies, 1991; Giordano et al., 2010). Jensen and Brownfield (1983) also found evidence contrary to social bonding theory’s hypothesis that attachment to parents inhibits delinquency regardless of parental behavior. For example, attachment to drug-free parents controls drug use by adolescents, whereas attachment to drug-using parents does not. Parental deviance provides deviant models and undermines social control in the family (Sampson and Laub, 1993:96). On the other hand, delinquency prediction studies have consistently shown that parental discipline, child-rearing practices, and other family variables affecting the young child, all of which are important in social bonding theory, are among the best predictors of subsequent delinquency (Glueck and Glueck, 1959; McCord and McCord, 1959; Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986; Hill et al., 1999; Van Gelder, Averdijk, Ribeaud, and Eisner, 2018).

Krohn and Massey (1980) found that the social bonding variables of belief, attachment, and commitment/involvement (which they combined) are moderately related to delinquent behavior but more to minor than serious delinquency (see also McIntosh et al., 1981). Agnew (1991b) found that attachment is not related and that commitment is only weakly related to minor delinquency and that social bonding variables have the expected, but weak, longitudinal effect on delinquency (Agnew, 1991a). Later, he reported findings that bonding variables are moderately related both to general and serious delinquency, but the relationships are mediated by strain and social learning variables (Agnew, 1993). Lasley (1988) found that some forms of adult crime (e.g., white-collar crime) are related to measures of social bonds. Akers and Cochran (1985) found attachment, commitment/involvement, and beliefs to be moderately related to adolescent marijuana use, but the effects of the bonding variables are much weaker than peer association and reinforcement or specific attitudes toward marijuana smoking. Attachment to both parents in an intact home is most preventive of delinquency, whereas children raised in single-parent families, even when they are attached to that parent, run a higher risk of delinquency (Rankin and Kern, 1994). Not only family structure but parental supervision and other aspects of family relationships are related to delinquency and conformity in ways consistent with social bonding theory (Simons et al., 2005). Attachment and commitment to school are negatively related to school misbehavior (Stewart, 2003) and to delinquency for both black and white youth (Cernkovich and Giordano, 1992). Studies in other countries also report some support for social bonding theory (Junger-Tas, 1992; Peterson, Lee, Henninger, and Cubellis, 2016; Manzoni and Schwarzenegger, 2019).

Although religious beliefs were not included in Hirschi’s original study, they are obviously representative of conventional …


Theoretical Summary Worksheet: Techniques of Neutralization

Student Name:

Directions: Using the readings assigned (ASJ Chapter 6 Part 1 (second half of section) and CAW Chapter 13), answer the questions below using word-for-word citations from the textbook including page numbers where the citation can be found. Statements in your own words should be limited to introducing a quote, providing context to it, linking it back to the main premise of the theory, etc. For citations, you may use “ASJ” as an abbreviation for the Akers, Sellers, and Jennings text or “CAW” for the Cullen, Agnew, and Wilcox text. Include any and all relevant answers for each question as you will use these summary worksheets as essentially a cheat sheet for everything you need to know about each theory. However, you must include at minimum 20 complete statements that provide important information for understanding the theory. A complete statement can be one very complex sentence or several sentences but requires some depth/explanation so small sentences will not suffice. Please use numbered responses (starting at #1 and going to #20) so that I can quickly assess what you intended to count as a single statement submission. You do NOT have to have an answer in each section—only those sections that are clearly answered by the theory—and you can have as many statements for a single section as necessary to fully portray the theory.

A. What is the context surrounding how/why this theory was first proposed? Was there a particular social, political, or historical context of the time that might help us understand why the theory proposed what it is does to explain crime at that time? Many of the readings do not include this info so skip when it’s missing.

B. What is the basic question(s) the theory is attempting to answer? NOTE: This cannot be “why people commit crime” but rather a more complex question that is specific to the theory and differentiates it from other theories. Many of the readings do not include this info so skip when it’s missing.

C. What ideological assumptions about human nature, motives/drives, etc. does the theory rest upon? Does it make assumptions about an innate drive to commit crime versus an innately good, non-criminal nature? Does it assume things like rationality, biological predisposition, behavior being learned, etc.? Most theories rest upon some assumptions so you will likely have at least one statement here for many of the theories.

D. What are the basic propositions the theory makes in attempting to explain law making, law enforcing, and/or law breaking? You do not have to answer each—just those sections that clearly apply depending on which type of theory is being summarized. With the exception of some of the conflict theories we will be studying towards the end of the semester, almost all of our theories focus on explaining law breaking so you will have much more information in Part C and probably almost nothing in Parts A and B.

a. Explanations of law making (i.e., legislation, political policy, etc.):

b. Explanations of law enforcing (i.e., practices by police & the CJ system):

c. Explanations of law breaking (i.e., criminal and delinquent behavior):

E. What key concepts/terms/definitions are central to understanding the theory and its explanations of law making, law breaking, and/pr law enforcing? Define each key concept and provide enough context for why each concept is so critical in understanding the theory.

F. Given the concepts above and what the theory proposes, how can the theory be empirically evaluated using scientific methods? When clearly indicated, provide answers to the two following questions. Though not always clearly indicated by the original theorists, discussions of research that has been done to test each theory may provide you insight into how to answer these questions. Just be sure to keep your responses to broader tests of the full theory—not just some of the smaller components and/or tangents some of the research reported alludes to.

a. Methodology (i.e., experiments, content analysis, observations, etc.) might be utilized to test the premise of the theory? Provide instruction on how such a methodology could be used to test the theory.

b. Measurable concepts/variables to be included in analyses: What concepts need to be included to test the theory and how would each concept be empirically measured? This response should include specific variables to be included in statistical analyses testing the theory but NOT the additional control variables of race, class, gender, etc. that most every study includes. Be sure to clearly include how each variable should be measured (i.e., operationalized).

G. Given the research reviewed—particularly in the Akers, Sellers, and Jennings text—is the theory supported by empirical research? Note: there are often contradictory findings presented to clearly lay out what findings support the theory and/or parts of the theory and what findings refute/fail to support the theory. Focus on broader tests of the theory—again, not too much on small components of it or tangentially related concepts—and be sure to differentiate research that indicates support versus that which does not. Include citations of the original researchers who conducted each empirical test of the theory.

a. Research findings supporting the theory (i.e., statistically significant findings that indicate support even if correlations may be weak):

b. Research findings refuting/discrediting the theory (i.e., failure to find statistical significance):

H. What additions, modifications, or other changes have been made to the theory by other theorists given findings of their research testing the original theory? This is usually addressed towards the end of the readings when they discuss how theorists have since used the original work to expand and further the theory. For example, Merton’s original anomie theory forms the foundation of Institutional Anomie, General Strain, and others so you would introduce those others here and how they expand/modify on Merton’s original work.

I. What implications for criminal justice policies/programs/practices does the theory provide?

a. Policy implications (i.e., laws, legislation, legal code, etc.):

b. Programming implications (i.e., community programs, government initiative programs, school programming, etc.):

c. Practices such as policing, correctional, etc. implications (i.e., implications for how to improve the way police, corrections, or courts do their jobs):

J. Include here other key information needed to understand the theory but not clearly fitting into any of the above sections. However, this is not a “catch all” for all your statements just because you don’t know where they belong above. Statements that clearly fit in a section above should be placed there and will not earn full credit if put here.