Control and Social Disorganization Theory

Authored by: Robert Agnew

The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415482745
eBook ISBN: 9780203880548
Adobe ISBN: 9781134015580


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Control and social disorganization theories are distinguished by their focus on those factors that restrain people from engaging in deviance. Control theories examine those restraints operating at the individual level, while social disorganization theories examine those operating at the community level. Deviance is said to result from weak restraints or controls. When controls are weak, individuals are free to satisfy their needs and desires in the most expedient manner— which is often deviance. This argument stands in contrast to most other theories, which argue that deviance is positively motivated by such factors as strains or stresses, exposure to deviant models, and beliefs favorable to deviance.

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