ADVANTAGES

Control theory has its origins in the early works of Durkheim and the Chicago sociologists, but the most influential proponent of this alternative to social learning theory is Travis Hirschi. In his book, (1969), Hirschi clarifies the basic themes of control theory and provides a convincing demonstration of how an analysis of the problem of conformity can yield important insights into the phenomenon of deviance. Hirschi's own version of control theory focuses on several elements of the "social bond" that ties individuals to conventional society and explains their conforming behavior. Like so many other contemporary ideas in the field of deviance, the notion of a social bond goes back to Durkheim's analysis of different types of suicide (1951). In addition to his examination of anomie suicide, Durkheim distinguished another type of suicide that results from a lack of social integration—the "relaxation of social bonds" between individuals and society (1951: 214). This type of suicide, which Durkheim termed egoistic suicide, occurs under conditions where members of society share relatively few common beliefs or where group relationships are weak or lacking. Durkheim describes the egoistic or individualistic way of life encouraged by such conditions as follows (1951: 209):

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