The first of these elements states that “criminal acts provide immediate gratification of desires” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P228).This element discusses the argument of immediate vs. Those who lack self-control prefer immediate gratification because that is something that they can experience right at that moment.To explain why an individual such as this would commit a criminal act, Hirschi states that “in the sociological control theory, it can be and is generally assumed that the decision to commit a criminal act may well be rationally determined” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218-219).
Erich Goode is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is currently Visiting Scholar at New York University.
He is the editor of a half-dozen anthologies and the author of ten books, including Drugs in American Society."An excellent, balanced exploration of self-control theory that leaves readers with a clear understanding of the limitations as well as the strengths of the theory."—CHOICE"This book provides a good review of the criticism of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theories and a useful summary of common debates and arguments surrounding the role of self-control in crime causation.
Hirschi proposes that when an individual is alienated from others in society, it is usually due to “active interpersonal conflict” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P217).
These conflicts with other people actively weaken social attachments to others, thus alienating the individual which can potentially lead to committing crime (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P217). Commitment is the idea that people who are committed to things that hold value in their lives, such as an education, career, marriage, or family, then they are less likely to commit crime; “the person becomes committed to a conventional line of action, and he is therefore committed to conformity” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P218).
Hirschi goes on to explain, “The concept of commitment assumes that the organization of society is such that the interests of most persons would be endangered if they were to engage in criminal acts” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P219).
This presumably means that if someone commits a crime, they are knowingly and willingly endangering that which they have committed to, thus the criminal act itself must have included such a calculated risk that it be deemed worthy to commit. This element simply suggests that those who are involved in activities that require a rather large time commitment do not possess the time it would take to actually commit a crime.
Those who possess self-control, however, can see and understand the importance of delayed gratification.
They can look ahead and see the potential benefits of a long-term goal paying off.
On the contrary, it seems that most, if not all, believe that to break the law is inherently a bad action.
Hirschi admits that, though strain theory was more or less created primarily to answer this question, control theories have a much more difficult time explaining why someone who believes crime to be bad to do it anyway (Cullen & Agnew, 2011 P220).