In 1969, Travis Hirschi developed what is known as Social Bond Theory. Hirschi built on the work of other social control theorists and was able to provide a better picture of what social bond is. In Social Bond Theory there are four basic elements that make up social bonds. They are attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief. It is these four bonds that all humans hold and ultimately determine conformity or deviant behavior(Agnew, 1985).
The four bonds are imperative in determining a person’s conformity or deviance to society. When bonds are weak, Hirschi saw that a person becomes “free” to engage in delinquency (Williams & McShane, 2010). The first bond, which is attachment, deals with the relationship one has with parents, friends or school and clubs. Attachment is the most important bond because a strong tie to parents or institutions will help prevent deviance. Attachment is also important because the other bonds are thought to build on attachment.
The second bond, which is involvement, deals with one’s time spent during extra-curricular activities (Williams & McShane, 2010). These activities include such things as work, hobbies, school, and talking with friends. It is believed that the more time spent by an individual on these activities, the less time the individual will have for deviant behavior. Taking part in sports, clubs and other activities will increase conformity to society.
Commitment, which is the third bond, focuses on an individual’s time invested on a career, education, or one’s own reputation (Williams & McShane, 2010). It is believed that if an individual has spent much time and put in a great amount of effort in something, such as an education, then the risk of committing deviant behavior is too great. Speaking from personal experience, as a college student I would not want to risk all of the effort I have put into getting good grades by taking part in a deviant act. A strong tie to these investments is what will deter an individual from deviance and will lead them to conformity.
The last bond, belief, deals with one’s own idea of a common value system used in society (Williams & McShane, 2010). In essence, belief deals with and individual’s conception of right and wrong and the belief that society is generally fair in the rules it holds. Obeying the law and its authorities is a big part of belief. The more an individual obeys and conforms to these laws and rules, the less likely they will engage in deviant behavior. The weaker the belief system of and individual is, the more likely deviance will occur. When looking at belief one can see that an individual has a common set of values held by society. This would make it a...