In criminology, the Social Bonding Theory (which was earlier known as the Social Control Theory) proposes that exploiting the process socialization and social learning builds self-control and reduces the inclination to indulge in such behavior that is considered and recognized as antisocial. The Social Bond Theory proposes that "people's relationships, commitments, values, norms, and beliefs encourage them not to break the law." ("Wikipedia", 2006). The Social Bond Theory has evolved dramatically throughout the years, not only with its titled name, but through the separately distinguished proposals of different persons, and also by the way it has been accepted and understood by not only criminologists themselves, but also the world in general. The evolution of this theory is of particular importance, and the originality of it must be recognized and understood just as much as the modern day from of the theory.
The Social Bond Theory is a topic of great discussion and even greater importance, in that its assistance and propositions in regards to criminology have aided the field in many ways. There are several different forms of the theory itself, which have been proposed by several persons over the years, and yet each theory's basis remains the same - to understand the ways in which it is possible to reduce the likelihood of criminality developing in individuals, which is, of course, a dramatically new stance in criminology altogether.
The purpose of this paper is to review and understand the different perspectives and proposals which have been taken on the Social Bond Theory, the importance of the theory itself, and to thoroughly discuss each of the assumptions, propositions, empirical findings, and other primary key elements of the Social Bond Theory. This is what will be dissertated in the following.
Out of the many different assumptions taken on the Social Bond Theory, there are six which are especially prominent. These six persons consist of (in chronological order): Albert J. Reiss, Jackson Toby, F. Ivan Nye, Walter Reckless, David Matza, and Travis Hirschi.
The earliest form of the theory was proposed by Albert J. Reiss, who proposed that delinquency was "behavior consequent to the failure of personal and social controls." (Reiss, 1951: 196). Reiss believed that the failure to internalize socially accepted and prescribed norms of behavior, as well as the lack of social rules that prescribe behavior in the family, the school, and other important social groups; are all also evidently important in the proposal of the Social Bond Theory. Reiss also proposed that the main factor was that personal control problems stemmed from a juvenile's inability to refrain from meeting their needs in a psychiatric sense. Reiss' theory launched a series of studies into insulation and vulnerability factors affecting delinquency.
Jackson Toby was another early theorist with his own separate take on the Social Bond Theory. He was the first to introduce the concept of 'stakes in conformity', which in the simplest terms dealt with how much a person has to lose when he or she breaks the law. Toby (1957)