The Relevance of the Social Control Theory in Explaining Crime among African Americans

Ayodeji Daramola, Gbolahan S Osho

Abstract


Today, criminologists, especially, Black criminologists, are thoroughly perplexed by the same problem of disproportionate minority confinement (DMC) most especially of Blacks in both the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Are African Americans more criminally minded than other races or ethnic groups? Do African Americans actually commit more crimes than others? These are the questions that the different deviant theories have tried to answer. The concept of social bonding arose from social control theory, which suggests that attachment to family and school, commitment to conventional pathways of achievements and beliefs in the legitimacy of social order are primary and important elements of establishing a social bond (Hirschi, 1969). In expounding his social control theory, Hirschi listed the elements of the bond as attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Does it mean that African Americans commit more crimes than other racial and ethnic groups? Or are African Americans genetically wired to be criminogenic? Is the society or the environment to blame for the perceived higher rate of crime among African Americans? Or are the criminal justice system, the judicial system, and the juvenile justice system, all together racially biased against Blacks, especially, Black males? Even though Hirschi (1969) did not mention attachment to religious beliefs as part of social control, but for the African American families, the church could play a significant role in helping to cement the bond of adolescents to their families. Any study of the African American family is not complete without the church. According to Work (1900), in all social study of the Negro, the church must be considered, for it is one of the greatest factors in his social life.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsr.v8i1.10729

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