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Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency (Transaction Publishers 2002 edition ed.). Berkeley: Unversity of California Press.




There are a tremendous number of tables in this book. If you are not up to speed on interpreting cross tab tables (if you do not understand the statement "percentage down and compare across") you want to read some basic stat background on this. Also bring to class your list of tables you do not understand.

Answer the general questions first.


We are at the busy time of the semester. Please take a look at all the general questions. 1-5 are the most general and thus of most importance for the next exam. Try and write on at least one or two of these.

In addition, I am going to ask each of you to prepare a couple of lines interpretation for a specific crosstab table in the book. The purpose is to grow our understanding of how strongly the evidence supports specific points, and for you to get some practice thinking about how/whether a data pattern supports a theory.


  1. What are the key elements in his theory of delinquency? Stated differently, you want to be able to describe what each of these "bonds" are, and the processes whereby each links to delinquency. You should be able to give an example of one  item for each type of bond

  2. What assumptional view underlies this theory?

  3. Throughout the volume, Hirschi makes several specific criticisms, which are empirically based, on strain theories, and cultural deviance theories. What are a few of the major criticisms he makes of each of these? Specify at least one or two key empirical points supporting each criticism.

  4. What is neutralization and how does Hirschi suggest it links to delinquency?

  5. What does it mean to "locate the 'conscience' in the bond?"

  6. How is delinquency operationalized? What are the benefits and drawbacks of how he did this?

  7. What is the connection between race and delinquency and how does he explain this?

  8. What specific types of activities are most likely to be linked to delinquency?

  9. For Hirschi, himself, what is the "state of anomie?'



  1. In the introduction, Hirschi labels the GTOC as about "self control" and COD as about "social control." Does he worry about whether these different theories reconcile with one another or not, and why? Important.

  2. At the time of his writing, what widespread assumptions made control theory a "hard sell?"

  3. How does his theory respond to the motivation question?

  4. To the criminal career issue?

  5. To the cultural variation issue?

  6. What is the theory's starting assumption? What are the implications?

  7. Chapter 1

  8. What 3 perspectives on delinquency dominated at the time of his writing?

  9. How do classic strain theories operate, and where do they go wrong?

  10. Why, from the strain perspective, is the social class-delinquency connection so important?

  11. In order to directly test strain theory, what two variables are needed? Do you see why?

  12. Why does H reject a strain theory of delinquency?

  13. In "strain theory man is a moral animal." How about in control theory? Do you see why?

  14. Can you explain how "the cultural deviance theorist rejects a fundamental assumption of strain theory?"

  15. How did Sutherland make his differential association theory (p. 12) "virtually unfalsifiable"? (p. 15).

  16. Chapter 2

  17. What do control theories assume?

  18. What are the elements of the bond? Be sure you can explain each of these.

  19. Explain how bond theory builds on Durkheim's idea "we are moral beings to the extent we are social beings" (p. 18)

  20. What problem does Hirschi get around by locating the "conscience" in the bond?

  21. In what ways is commitment rational?

  22. Involvement in what?

  23. How are views toward rules captured?

  24. Why is neutralization unnecessary in H's control theory? Important.

  25. Is it the main effects of each element of the bond that is important or the interaction effects? (p. 26) Important. If you are confused about interaction or moderating effects read Baron & Kenny article on Bboard.

  26. In H's theory, are opportunities [to commit delinquent acts] randomly distributed or not, and if not, explain why not. Important.

  27. How does H respond to the question "Why did he/she do it?" Really important.

  28. Chapter 3

  29. What were the data sources?

  30. Chapter 4

  31. How is delinquency defined?

  32. How is it different from the definitions others have used?

  33. What are the arguments for and against self report delinquency as opposed to court reported delinquency?

  34. How and why does the count approach to delinquency collide with the theory's assumption that reform is possible?

  35. Be sure you understand the recency, standard, and persistence indices.

  36. Does H conclude that police or self report indicators are more valid? Why?

  37. Chapter 5

  38. Are the structural factors examined causes or causes of causes of delinquency? Important

  39. What does he conclude about the link between social class and delinquency and why?

  40. How does race link to delinquency? What does it depend on?

  41. How does the official reaction hypothesis fare?

  42. Theoretically, is he arguing that race links directly to official delinquency? Important (be sure you understand Table 17)

  43. Chapter 6

  44. In what ways does H differ with previous interpretations about how parental attachment influences delinquency? Important

  45. Why does he distinguish between the fact of communication and the focus? Reactions?

  46. Do lower class boys doing delinquent acts get support from their fathers?

  47. Are low status parents effective delinquency preventers?

  48. What are the impacts of delinquent friends?

  49. What finding of his suggests that single parent families can prevent as much delinquency as two parent families?

  50. Chapter 7

  51. Pay close attention to his model about how academic competence affects the outcome. Be prepared to describe. Think about both perceived and recorded competence (hint: table 32)

  52. Is it indifference to school or frustration about school?

  53. Can you see why his model comes out ahead of Cohen's (table 35)?

  54. How do perceptions of legitimacy come into play?

  55. Is it attitudes, or competence, or both?

  56. Can you see how Table 39 shows moderating effects?

    Chapter 8

  57. Can you see why selection issues create central causal questions (p. 137)? Important

  58. What is the spuriousness question?

  59. Does peer attachment replace/substitute for parent attachment?

  60. Is it the number of your friends who are bad actors that is important in determining delinquency, or how close you are to them?

  61. pp 152 - 155 - be sure you understand these models

  62. Can you see and describe how the revised control model is supported?

  63. Do you see evidence of moderating effects (p. 157, table 52)?

  64. Does the feathering come before the flocking or the flocking before the feathering?

  65. Chapter 9

  66. How does the lack of commitment hypothesis fare?

  67. How do his findings about aspirations contradict Merton? (p 173 - huge)

  68. Does parental pressure for college make things worse?

  69. Chapter 10

  70. Which conventional activities are important (both in good and bad ways) and why?

  71. Chapter 11

  72. What is the source of "definitions favorable to violations of law"?

  73. Does neutralization occur before or after committing delinquent acts? Implications?

  74. How does Miller's "toughness" argument fare?

  75. Chapter 12

  76. Which theory fares the worst given Hirschi's data and analysis?