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Posted: August 20th, 2023

Christopher Gardner’s Journey from Homelessness to Financial Success

Supporting Lectures:

Positive Criminology
Social Structure Theory
Case StudyChristopher Gardner was rendered jobless and homeless at the age of 30 in 1981.With his baby son, Gardner moved from shelter to shelter in San Francisco as he tried to find a job. Gardner eventually managed to get the job of a trainee at a stock-brokerage firm. Through his determination and grit, he managed to rise all the way up and finally own the successful brokerage firm, Gardner Rich, which he founded in 1987.Research more about Gardner’s life and consider the impact of an individual’s environment on behavior and choices. Prepare a 4-6 page report in Microsoft Word that addresses the following points:

Summarize Gardner’s rise from homelessness to financial success, including a description of his current status.
Relate Gardner’s experience to theories presented in the course to this point. You should be able to apply theories to both his difficulties and his successes.
What kind of information about Gardner’s background would a social control theorist require in order to be fully informed about Gardner’s environment and to explain how he improved his life? Why?
What social control mechanisms might Gardner have encountered in his early life that could have aided his behavior later in life?
If Gardner, frustrated with his life, had taken up a career of crime, which criminological theories could have been utilized to defend his actions?

Christopher Gardner’s Journey from Homelessness to Financial Success: A Positive Criminological Perspective

The story of Christopher Gardner’s rise from homelessness to financial success serves as a remarkable example of human resilience and determination. This case study delves into Gardner’s life trajectory, examining the impact of his environment on his behavior and choices. By applying theories from Positive Criminology and Social Structure Theory, we aim to gain insights into the factors that contributed to both his difficulties and ultimate achievements.

Christopher Gardner’s Remarkable Journey
Christopher Gardner’s life took a dramatic turn in 1981 when he found himself without a job and homeless, with his infant son to care for. Despite facing adversity, he persevered, moving from shelter to shelter in San Francisco while tirelessly seeking employment opportunities. Gardner’s determination led him to secure a trainee position at a stock-brokerage firm. Through hard work and an unyielding spirit, he steadily climbed the ranks, eventually establishing his successful brokerage firm, Gardner Rich, in 1987. Presently, Gardner enjoys a thriving financial status, a testament to his unwavering dedication and entrepreneurial acumen.

Relating Gardner’s Experience to Theoretical Frameworks
Positive Criminology, which focuses on understanding factors that promote pro-social behavior and successful adaptation, provides valuable insights into Gardner’s journey. Gardner’s transformation from homelessness to prosperity exemplifies the potential for positive change in individuals even amidst challenging circumstances. Positive Criminology emphasizes the role of personal strengths, resilience, and support systems in facilitating such transformations.

On the other hand, Social Structure Theory contends that the social environment heavily influences individual behavior. Gardner’s early life experiences exposed him to adverse conditions that could have pushed him toward a life of crime. However, his resilience, combined with external opportunities and support, helped him navigate away from a criminal path and towards personal growth and success.

Information Required for a Social Control Theorist’s Understanding
A social control theorist analyzing Gardner’s life would seek detailed information about his background and early experiences. Factors such as his childhood environment, familial relationships, access to education and job opportunities, as well as social support networks, would be of utmost importance. Understanding these factors can shed light on the social controls that played a pivotal role in shaping Gardner’s behavior and choices.

Social Control Mechanisms Influencing Gardner’s Behavior
In his early life, Gardner likely encountered social control mechanisms that contributed to his later positive behavior. Protective factors such as strong family bonds, positive role models, access to education, and community support may have acted as buffers against engaging in criminal activities. These factors nurtured a sense of responsibility and self-worth, reinforcing his commitment to pursuing a lawful and productive life.

Criminological Theories and Gardner’s Hypothetical Criminal Path
In an alternate reality, if Gardner had succumbed to frustration and resorted to criminal activities, several criminological theories could be employed to understand and defend his actions. Strain theory might explain how societal pressures and limited opportunities could have led him to commit crimes as a means of survival or advancement. Differential association theory could argue that exposure to criminal influences in his environment could have shaped his behavior. Moreover, social disorganization theory could highlight how a disadvantaged neighborhood might foster criminal tendencies.

Christopher Gardner’s journey from homelessness to financial success exemplifies the triumph of human determination over adversity. By analyzing his life through the lens of Positive Criminology and Social Structure Theory, we uncover the significance of personal resilience, social support, and environmental factors in shaping an individual’s trajectory. Gardner’s story serves as an inspiration and a valuable case study in understanding the complexities of human behavior and the potential for positive transformation.


Bandura, A. (2016). Moral disengagement: How people do harm and live with themselves. Worth Publishers.
Hirschi, T. (2017). Causes of delinquency. Routledge.
Reisig, M. D., & Pratt, T. C. (Eds.). (2018). The Oxford handbook of criminological theory. Oxford University Press.
Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2016). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law. Cengage Learning.

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