Travis Hirschi created the social control theory in 1969. According to Hirschi what causes deviant behavior is an individual’s lack of social controls that serve to encourage conformity. These social controls are bonds “or ties to conventional, mainstream persons, beliefs, activities and social institutions” (Goode 2011:70) for example family, friends and schools. If an individual has weak bonds with the conventional society, or has no bonds with the conventional society at all then they are more likely to be deviant. It is not the individual’s ties to unconventional subculture that influences them to turn to substance abuse. Instead it is the lack of an individual’s connections to mainstream society that causes them to turn to substance abuse.
The stronger the relationship and bond with conventional others an individual has and the more committed an individual is to conventional institutions the less deviant their behavior is likely to be (Goode 2011). These relationships can be with parents, family, their children or a significant other. Conventional institutions include family, school, religion and work. According to Hirschi there are four elements of social bonds attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. The stronger each of these elements of social bond is the less likely that the individual is to engage in deviant behavior. The individual will not want to break society’s rules or threaten their relationships and commitments (Goode 2011). Hirschi exclaims that the first element of a social bond attachment is the most important factor. Attachment “consist of affectionate bonds between an individual and his or her significant others” (Tibbetts 2012:163). The attachment element is crucial during an individual’s socialization process because it is through attachment that one learns their conventional values.
The second element of a social bond, commitment “is the investment a person has in conventional society” (Tibbetts 2012:164). In other words, how much an individual has confirmed with the society. For example Mark is strongly committed to his basketball team, however one day he is faced with a decision on whether or not to skip school with his friends and go to the movies. If he skips school then he is at risk of not being able to play in his basketball game after school. Therefore Mark will not skip school so he can play in his game. The commitment an individual has such as Mark’s commitment to his basketball team will prevent them from doing something (skipping school) that could interfere with their commitment. The third element of a social