Despite several essential differences between the control theories and criminological theories, there are also aspects that may be perceived as similarities. There are also two key derivations of these theories which are called rational choice theory and deterrence theory (Hirschi, 2011). On a bigger scale, these theories relate to the classical schools of crime causation. The core differences between the control theories and criminological theories are reflected by the divergent areas of focus. The emphasis of the deterrence theory is placed on severity and rapidity of the penalization process. In this case, the criminal justice system is responsible for the inevitability of the punishments (Hirschi, 2011).
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On the other hand, the criminological theories emphasize the benefits of delinquent behaviors and associated costs. Another critical variance between the two types of theories is that the adepts of the social control theory do not consider the criminal justice system the superlative legal instance. Instead, they believe that the criminological theory is intended to control the crime rates but fails to do so. Moreover, the experts in the field of social control theories tend to ignore the benefits of delinquent activities due to their belief that these benefits are identical to the benefits of law-abiding behaviors (Wagner, 2013).
When it comes to the ideas proposed by control theories, they do not have much in common with the sociological view of the crime. For instance, social learning theory presupposes that crime cannot be related to natural activities (cultural deviance theory also supports this claim). According to these theories, crime is normally committed under the influence of a number of social triggers (Hirschi, 2011).
The combinations of these pivotal aspects may include peer pressure or even social culture. The amalgamation of these external factors is the ultimate controller responsible for the manifestation of delinquent behaviors in a given individual. According to these ideas, not a single crime will be committed if there is no external impact. In such case, the influence comes not from the dominant society but the conformist wrongdoer’s outlooks. It is also critical to mention the anomie theories which commonly presuppose that the shortcomings of the social system tend to push the individual to crime (Beirne & Messerschmidt, 2015).
The conflict between the criminological and social control theories transpires when the individual realizes that a legal way to achieve the desired outcomes does not exist. These core aspects allow the researchers to critique social control theories and perceive the relevance of each of the theories.
There are several biological schools of crime causation. Nevertheless, all of these theories have one weak spot in common – these theories suppose that genetic inheritance and other biological characteristics positively affect the probability of manifestation of criminal behaviors. Even though the evidence supporting this claim exists, other control and criminological theories have a much more robust theoretical basis and provide rational explanations (Siegel, 2015).
When we discuss biological schools of crime causation, we should remember that aggressive behavior or mental illness do not always lead to delinquent behavior and crimes. Conversely, these theories emphasize congenital predisposition to crime and disregard the majority of the external factors that are taken into consideration by other criminological and social control theories (Hirschi, 2011). This area of theoretical criminology has to be thoroughly explored further in order to expand the knowledge and question the relevance of the existing schools of crime causation.
Beirne, P., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2015). Criminology: A sociological approach. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Hirschi, T. (2011). Causes of delinquency. New York, NY: Routledge.
Siegel, L. J. (2015). Criminology: The core (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Wagner, W. E. (2013). Practice of research in criminology and criminal justice. New York, NY: Sage.