1st Edition

Fifty Years of Causes of Delinquency, Volume 25
The Criminology of Travis Hirschi

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after May 29, 2021
ISBN 9780367529406
May 29, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
394 Pages

USD $47.95

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Book Description

This volume marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Travis Hirschi’s seminal work Causes of Delinquency. The influence of Hirschi’s book, and the theory of social control it described, can scarcely be overstated. Social control theory has been empirically tested or commented on by hundreds of scholars and is generally regarded as one of the three dominant theories of crime.

The current work highlights the impact that social control theory has had on criminological theory and research to date. Agnew’s contribution highlights the role that Hirschi’s tests of control versus strain theory had in contributing to the "near demise" of classic strain theories, and to the subsequent development of general strain theory. Serrano-Maillo relates control to drift, and Tedor and Hope compare the human nature assumptions of control theory to the current psychological literature. Other contributions return to Hirschi’s original Richmond Youth Survey (RYS) data and demonstrate the robustness of Hirschi’s major findings. Costello and Anderson find strong support for Hirschi’s predictions in an analysis of a diverse group of youths in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1999; Nofziger similarly finds support for Hirschi’s predictions with an analysis of the girls in the RYS, and explores the criticisms of social control theory that were the result of Hirschi’s failure to analyze the data from the girls in the sample. Kempf-Leonard revisits her seminal 1993 survey of control theory and reviews the current empirical status of control theory. Other contributions explore new directions for both social control theory and self-control theory. The contribution by Cullen, Lee, and Butler holds that one element of the social bond, commitment, was under-theorized by Hirschi, and the authors present a more in-depth development of the concept. Quist explores the possibility of expanding social control theory to explicitly incorporate exchange theory concepts; Ueda and Tsutomi apply control theory cross-culturally to a sample of Japanese students; and Felson uses control theory to organize criminological ideas. Vazsonyi and Javakhishvili’s contribution is an empirical analysis of the connections between social control in early childhood and self-control later in life; Chapple and McQuillan’s contribution suggests that the gender gap in delinquency is better explained by increased controls in girls than by gendered pathways to offending. Oleson traces the evolution of Hirschi’s control theory, and suggests that, given the relationships between fact and theory, a biosocial model of control might be a promising line of inquiry.

Fifty Years of Causes of Delinquency: The Criminology of Travis Hirschi describes the current state of control theory and suggests its future directions, as well as demonstrates its enduring importance for criminological theory and research. The volume will be of interest to scholars working in the control theory tradition as well as those critical of the perspective, and is suitable for use in graduate courses in criminological theory.

Table of Contents

The Criminology of Travis Hirschi: Social Control and Beyond

James C. Oleson

Part I: Social Control Theory―A Look Back

1. The Rise of Social Control Theory, Fall of Classic Strain Theory, and Reconciliation Between Social Control and General Strain Theories

Robert Agnew

2. Linking Bond Theory to Drift Theory

Alfonso Serrano-Maillo

3. Causes of Delinquency Revisited: Key Findings from the Fayetteville Replication Study

Barbara J. Costello and Bradley J. Anderson

Appendix: List of Indicators Used in Structural Models

4. Beyond the Footnore: A Return to the Girls in the Richmond Youth Project

Stacey Nofziger

5. Social Control Theory and Human Nature

Miyuki Fukushima Tedor and Trina L. Hope

6. The Status of Hirschi’s Social Control Theory After 50 Years

Kimberly Kempf-Leonard

Part II: Looking Forward―New Directions and Applications

7. A Theory of Commitment and Delinquency

Francis T. Cullen, Heejin Lee, and Leah C. Butler

8. Infant Socialization and the Development of Self-Control: Filling in the Gap

Alexander T. Vazsonyi and Magda Javakhishvili

9. A Matter of Control: Social Controls and the Gender Gap in Delinquency

Constance Chapple and Julia McQuillan

Appendix: Decomposition Analyses of the Gender Differences in Delinquency

10. Using a Wider Control Theory to Teach Criminology

Marcus Felson

11. A Test of Hirschi's Redefined Control Theory in the Far East

Mitsuaki Ueda and Hiroshi Tsutomi

12. Social Control As Social Exchange: Incorporating Power and Dependency Concepts Into a Social Control Model

Theron Quist

13. The Rabbit and the Duck: The Evolution of Hirschi’s Control Theory

James C. Oleson

List of Contributors


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James C. Oleson is Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of Auckland. He has a B.A. from St. Mary’s College of California, an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University, and a J.D. from UC Berkeley. After being selected as a 2004–2005 U.S. Supreme Court Fellow, he led the Criminal Law Policy Staff of the United States Courts until 2010. He is interested in psychological criminology, theory, risk assessment, sentencing, and penology.

Barbara J. Costello (Ph.D., University of Arizona) is Professor of Sociology at the University of Rhode Island. Her research has focused on testing and extending control theories of crime and delinquency. Her recent research focuses on peer influence both toward and away from deviant behavior, with an emphasis on the mechanisms by which peers influence each other’s behavior.


What is remarkable and well-illustrated by Fifty Years of Causes of Delinquency is how Causes remains an utterly contemporary work. Stimulating, essentially consistent with the best modern scholarship on crime and delinquency, of enormous scope, at once parsimonious and deeply insightful, it changed criminology in significant ways—and continues to stimulate some of the field’s very best scholarship.

Michael R. Gottfredson, Chancellor’s Professor, University of California, Irvine, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books.