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Containment Theory of Crime

This discussion seeks to examine the containment theory of crime that Walter Reckless developed in the 1950s and 1960s, looking at both the strengths and weaknesses of the model and very briefly at the experiments Reckless and his colleagues used to test it. RecklessÆs model is then compared to other ôcontrolö models of crime and these control models are then compared to a set of related but differing rational actor and social learning models of crime. Finally, both control theories and social learning theories are placed within the broader psychological literature on human cognitive development. The purpose of this discussion is to bring to light the underlying assumptions of a model as well as to assess the usefulness of different established models to current criminological theory.

RecklessÆs ôcontainmentö theory of crime falls loosely into the category of control theories of crime. Some proponents of control theory û particularly early proponents of this family of theories -- saw control theories as fundamentally different from social learning and all other theories of crime. This is based on the fact that control theory has as its core the questions: Why is anyone a law-abiding citizen? Why does anyone conform to social rules and conventions? In contrast to this, other theories (including social learning theories and many theories of delinquency based in systems of moral thought) have asked why some people deviate from social norms to perform criminal acts. Control theory sets aside the question of why some people are drawn into deviance and essentially asks: Why not be deviant? Why donÆt all people become criminals?

The umbrella of control theory is in fact quite a broad one. Control theorists share a common focus on social relationship that dampen crime rather than social interconnections that promote it. However, some control theorists downplay any positive factors that induce people to commit crimes while other...

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Containment Theory of Crime. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 05:50, February 20, 2017, from