This article explores the relationship between social control theory (Hirschi, 1969) and self-control theory (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990), with reference to Travis Hirschi's criminological career. It is suggested that focusing on Hirschi's intellectual development enables us to appreciate some of the theoretical shifts between his early and later work. How far there is a connection between social and self-control theory is a matter of some debate among commentators in the field. However, it is argued here that the two theoretical positions are based on fundamentally different principles, particularly in relation to the core concept of control.
The paper drew on email exchanges with Hirschi, and was cited by him in the introduction to the 2001 reissue of 'Causes of Delinquency', and by John Laub in his introduction to Hirschi's selected papers, 'The Craft of Criminology' (2002).