Self-control theory and the concept of opportunity: the case for a more systematic union

Hay, Carter and Forrest, Walter (2008) Self-control theory and the concept of opportunity: the case for a more systematic union. Criminology, 46 4: 1039-1072. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2008.00135.x

Author Hay, Carter
Forrest, Walter
Title Self-control theory and the concept of opportunity: the case for a more systematic union
Journal name Criminology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0011-1384
Publication date 2008-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2008.00135.x
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 46
Issue 4
Start page 1039
End page 1072
Total pages 34
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Abstract The purpose of this study is to advance the idea that low self-control - one of the strongest known predictors of crime - likely has effects that are conditional on the supply of criminal opportunities. Some scholars initially interpreted the theory to make this exact prediction, but Gottfredson and Hirschi (2003) have rejected this interpretation. They have insisted that the simplistic nature of most crimes ensures that opportunities are limitless and that variation in opportunity simply reflects variation in self-control. We trace the history of this uncertain position of opportunity in self-control theory and argue that it should play a significant role in the theory, even if Gottfredson and Hirschi did not originally envision this. Next, we draw on routine activities theory and applications of it to individual offending to offer a theoretical statement of how opportunity should be incorporated into self-control theory. Last, using data from a national sample of juveniles, we test the arguments that have been made. The analysis suggests that the effects of low self-control on delinquency partially depend on the availability of criminal opportunities, as indicated by the time juveniles spend with their friends or away from the supervision of their parents.
Keyword General theory of crime
Unstructured socializing
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 46 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 58 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 09 Mar 2015, 14:01:45 EST by Walter Forrest on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)