In criminological theory, social control theory was proposed by the likes of Emile Durkheim and Travis Hirschi as a means of controlling antisocial behaviour. There are four different types of control:
1. Direct or Formal social control punishment is threatened or applied by the police, army or other organisation, for failing to stick to the rules or laws.
2. Indirect or Informal social control crime or antisocial behaviour is avoided because of the conscience or other means such as education.
3. Internal by identification with positive role models, like parents, peers or mentors, who will influence behaviour.
4. Control through satisfaction ensuring an individual's needs are met so there is no need to commit crime or engage in antisocial behaviour.
But crime itself can be used as a form of social control because of the power of different types of crime over society. For example, violent crimes, rapes and, increasingly, antisocial behaviour, are making certain places no-go areas. Estates are terrorised by young people and the elderly are afraid to go out after dark.
Violence also demands a response from the state, which in turn creates a more controlled society. With curfews and tagged offenders or the threat of vigilantes, the areas where there are pockets of crime are not only controlled by the crime but also by the powers in place to control the crime.
This can be in terms of an increased police presence, CCTV cameras or simply improving street lighting in the red light district and providing better education and leisure activities for young people.
The best example of crime as a method of social control in the 21st century is terrorism. No other form of crime has as much influence over the movement and daily lives of the world's population as Islamic extremists. Terrorism prevents people from travelling and using public transport, it puts fear into the ordinary person and disrupts daily life beyond imagination. In short, a terrorist attack has led to social breakdown.
White collar crime, fraud and identity theft also affect the way we dispose of personal details and handle sensitive data. It means we don't trust colleagues and need quality control checks in place to ensure things are done correctly. All of these create a more law-driven and controlled society.
So it's not just counter-crime measures which exert social control measures on to society, but crime itself has an enormous influence on us and the way we live our lives. Whether it's crime on the internet or a personal crime committed against us, we are all managed in some way, either directly or indirectly, by the crime in our society.