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NYU / Sociology / SOC 503 / what is criminology?

what is criminology?

what is criminology?


School: New York University
Department: Sociology
Course: Criminology
Professor: Jo dixon
Term: Fall 2016
Tags: criminology and sociology
Cost: 50
Name: Criminology Exam 1 Study Guide
Description: Here's the study guide for Tuesday's exam. :)
Uploaded: 10/08/2016
25 Pages 8 Views 13 Unlocks

Criminology Exam 1 Study Guide

what is criminology?

Week 1:

Crime, Justice, and Society Chapter 1- Introducing Sociological Criminology: 

-Criminology: A multidisciplinary field of inquiry that involves theoretical explanation and  empirical research regarding the process of lawmaking and lawbreaking, and the societal  reaction to lawbreaking. (Sutherland)

- defined as an attempt to understand crime as a social rather than an individual  phenomenon, as a consequence of social relationships and the organization of society -criminology focuses on crime while criminal justice focuses on the agencies that respond  to criminal law violation  

The Media

-Mass Media: An institutionalized system of communication that conveys information and  symbolic messages to audiences through print and technology

-People rely on the news media to learn about crime and criminals (Schulenburg) -“If it bleeds, it leads”

what institutionalized system of communication that conveys information and symbolic messages to audiences through print and technology ?

-Infotainment: Broadcast material that is designed to entertain and inform; blur news and  entertainment

-They heighten fear and promote “a shared disgust for anyone alleged to be a criminal”  (Bond-Maupin)

-Violent crimes are overrepresented in the media

-Crime Wave: A sudden rise and eventual fall of a particular type of crime (gang violence,  elderly, etc.)

-May or may not be related to actual rises in criminal behavior (usually not) -Causes perception of the crime problem to change

-Heresy (Anne Hutchenson) and witchcraft trials

-Moral Panic: A discrepancy or disjuncture between a perceived threat and an actual threat that,  when reported in the media, generates public support for doing something dramatic about a  particular problem (McCorkle and Miethe)

what is sociological imagination?

-Sometimes the opposite happens, where the media downplays crime so there won’t be  unnecessary public panic (Fishman); good for police and tourism Don't forget about the age old question of What are the 6 special properties of water?

-Serial Murderer: A psychotically compulsive offender capable of extreme violence who selects  multiple victims at random, often traveling from state to state If you want to learn more check out what are secure and insecure forms of attachment?

-This is an example of a crime wave and moral panic that ensued perpetuated by the  media

-Only 2-3% of homicides

-Drug Scares: A perennial typed of crime wave and moral panic that in the US goes back at least  to the early part of the 20th century (Reinarman and Levine)

-Usually involves a “dangerous” drug and “dangerous” individuals (African-Americans  and crack for example)

-Exaggerated drug scares do nothing do solve the drug problem and may increase it

Politics of Crime Control

-Liberals: Say that crime can be prevented through social policies aimed at improving the  underlying root causes associated with economic inequality and poverty, especially for  minorities, for who discrimination is a persistent problem We also discuss several other topics like What is the enrichment hypothesis in the development of folk biological knowledge?

-Set up welfare programs and educational opportunities; rehabilitation  

-Conservatives: They emphasize the role of personal responsibility in refraining from criminal  behavior; bad people exist so there will always be crime; harsher; no other option but to set them  apart from us

-The government can do little to solve these problems

-War on Drugs: Reagan declared this “war” that would redouble conventional law enforcement  efforts and unprecedented involvement of the military in international drug interdiction -“National Crusade”- Reagan  

-Zero Tolerance: Emphasized the “culpability of casual users” and the need to wipe out all illicit  drug use (Hagan)

-Reagan administration took money away from rehabilitation and treatment and put it  towards being hard on crime

-Democrats supported this as well to ensure they weren’t being seen as soft on crime -Brady Bill: Required a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun, named after  Reagan’s press secretary who was shot and paralyzed in the assassination attempt -Antitrust Law: Laws that protect consumers from predatory business practices by ensuring that  fair competition exists in an open-market economy; prevents the monopolization of an industry -Oligopoly: A few firms dominate basic industries in society; the concentration of corporate  power in the US economy Don't forget about the age old question of What is the bombay phenotype?

-Patriot Act: President Bush signed this into effect a month after 9/11 that was deemed very  controversial because it overrode many civil liberties; allowed for warrantless searches for  individuals deemed a threat to national security  

Sociology of Crime:

-Sociological Imagination: To understand the ways in which personal or private troubles are  related to public issues; to understand how individual lives are influenced by social forces that  define or constrain people’s choices and opportunities

-Social Structure: The patterns of social interaction and institutional relationships that endure  over time and that enable or constrain people’s choices and opportunities  -External to individuals because they are not of their own making

-Don’t exist independently of social action

-Ongoing accomplishments reproduced by individuals acting in particular ways in  specific situations (Giddens)

-Personal Agency: Individuals’ ability to exercise a degree of control over their lives and at times  even manage to transform or reconfigure the social relationships in which they are assembled  (Berger); individuals are capable of choosing alternate courses of actions

-Self-efficacy: The ability to experience oneself as a causal agent capable of acting upon rather  than merely reacting to the external environment (Bandura) We also discuss several other topics like Mass Disasters means what?

-Rosa Parks defying the law and refusing to leave her seat

-Legalistic Definition of Crime: “Crime is an intentional action in violation of criminal law…  committed without defense or justification, and sanctioned by the stare as a felony or  misdemeanor.” (Paul Tappan)

-Very narrow view of crime

-Criminologists shouldn’t put their own spin on what they think crime should be -Sutherland: Rejects the legalistic definition of crime  

-White Collar Crime: Crime committed by persons of respectability and high social status in the  course of their occupations (Sutherland)

-Criminal Law: Defines harmful conduct as a public matter with traditional law enforcement  authorities; greatest moral stigma

-Public offense; sanction is punishment; state enforces it

-Civil Law: Defines harm as a private matter to be settled by individuals

-Private offense; between two people/organizations; sanction is money; individuals bring  action

-Regulatory Law: Concerned with the imposition of rules and standards for business-related  activity and involves agencies like EPA and SEC

-Public offense; sanction is money; agency brings action; fines go to state -Consensus Perspective: Assumes there is a general agreement in society regarding what is right  and what is wrong, regarding what behaviors should be criminalized or not -Tappan and legalistic view If you want to learn more check out What is a binomial distribution?

-Conflict Perspective: Views definitions of crime as maters of disagreement, the assertion of  power, and the struggles of competing groups to use the law to their advantage -Sutherland view

-Labeling Theory: Think about crime as “a label that is attached to behavior and events by those  who create and administer the criminal law” (Barlow)

-Legislators have legal definitions that label some actions as crimes and officials apply  these to particular individuals

-Many of us have violated the law at least once; being caught stigmatizes us -Being a criminal has little to do with if we break the law or not

-Criminalization: The process by which criminal law is selectively applied, making some people  more or less vulnerable to or immune from legal control

-Critical Criminologists: They critique the legal system’s bias towards the criminalization  process

-Analogous Social Injury: “Legally permissible acts or sets of conditions whose consequences  are similar to those of illegal acts” (Michalowski)

-A way to broaden our understanding of crime

-Class and Crime: Hierarchal relationship that designates individuals based on wealth; major  problem with crime in the US

-Intergenerational Mobility: The ability for young people to move up on this hierarchy (to  do better than their parents); lower in the US than countries with less inequality -Most Americans accept some inequality, but not what we have today

-Class affects your incentives and disincentives to engage in criminal behavior -Race and Crime: Inequality based on race in US  

-Minority: Racial/ethnic groups who are typically a numerical minority and have a  disadvantaged social status

-1/3 of Black men can expect to spend some time in prison

-Mass incarceration functions as a contemporary legal system of racial control (Michelle  Alexander)

-Reflects a fear of racial minorities and a smokescreen for our inability to unwillingness  to address the problems of the inner city (Diana Gordon)

-Gender and Crime: Includes social construction of gender

-Men have more social advantages than women

-Patriarchy: A society that grants men more power, prestige, and privilege -Girls are more supervised growing up and boys are taught to be competitive, aggressive,  and risk-takers

-Men have higher crime rates than women (violent and white-collar)

-Intersectionalities: Social statuses overlap (gender, race, class)  

Class Notes: 

-Natural Law:

-Immanuel Kant

-Body of rules that are considered to be implemented on a community

-Not political, natural

-Come from religion and philosophy (Thou shalt not kill)

-Internal, universal, unchangeable


-Greatest good for the greatest number

-Majorative rule



-People in power make the rules

-Victimless Crimes:


-Drug Use

-Under-age drinking


-All parties consent and no one is harmed

-Consensus Model:


-Society as a whole

-Consensus becomes law

-Theory of norms

-Criminals bring people together to create solidarity


-Punishment is proactive not reactive; meant to be a deterrent

-Punishment is functionally linked to solidarity

-Crime is the product of ritual punishment; it isn’t a property of the behavior itself, but a  reflection of the solidarity needs of the community

-Crime doesn’t need to have an objective correlation with social harm

Crime Readings: 

Hagan - “Defining Crime: An Issue of Morality”: 

-Defining crime is usually a step toward controlling it

-How far should the law go in defining crime?

-Sir Stephen and Lord Devlin believed that the law should regulate private morality -So-called “victimless crimes” could have an effect on surrounding communities and individuals -Can the law control private morality?

-Laws that are unsupported by the public morality are unlikely to be effective -Crimes without complainants are difficult/ impossible to control

-Criminalization can lead to more profits for criminals, organized crime groups, the growth of an  extensive criminal subculture, and expenditure of police forces

-Because of this, Morris and Hawkins believe that a range of behaviors should be decriminalized

Huff - “Historical Explanations of Crime: From Demons to Politics”: 

-This article provides an overview for the development of criminological theory  -Supernatural Explanations:

-Culprit was under the control of evil spirits/demons  

-The fate of the criminal was to appease the will of the Gods

-Usually no incarceration, just death

-Rationalism and Free Will

-Beccaria: Greatest happiness for the greatest number; crime is an injury to society;  prevention of crime is more important than punishment; deterrence is more valid than  social revenge; incarceration should be used more widely

-Bentham: man pursues pleasure and tries to avoid pain; punishment should fit the crime;  punishment is a necessary evil

-would-be criminal could be deterred by the threat of punishment if it was swift, certain,  and appropriate and unpleasant


-inherent differences between criminals and non-criminals

-general rejection of metaphysical and speculative approaches

-denial of free will concept of man

-clear distinction between science and law

-application of the scientific method

-Study of criminal families and genetics

Zimring – “A Youth Violence Epidemic: Myth or Reality?”: 

-Arrest statistics say that juveniles have increased their offending

-No common pattern for youth arrests for violent crime from 1980-1996

-The sharp escalation in homicide is due to fatal attack with firearms

-The hardware being used seems to be the major explanation, not any change in the youth  population

-Increase in assault arrests of youths is likely due to a change in classification of attacks -No unitary trend in recent history of youth arrests for violent crime

Humphries - “Realities and Images of Crack Mothers”: 

-The news media was turning lower class Black women into villains

-It was found that Black women used crack during pregnancy more than white women -But Black women were much more likely to be tested  

-Networks constructed an image of crack mothers based on race

-Remorse for white women, villainy for black women

Week 2:

Crime, Justice, and Society Chapter 2- Counting Crime: 

Uniform Crime Reports

-The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) supported Hoover’s attempts to create  a standardized crime classification system to be used throughout the country -Index Crimes: Crimes against persons or violent crimes; homicide, rape, robbery, and  aggravated assault

-Non-Index Crimes: Crimes against property or non-violent crimes; burglary, larceny-theft, and  motor-vehicle theft; there are 20 additional offenses

-Distinction between these implies that index crimes are more serious (questionable  assumption)

-Crime rates are often used to measure increases/decreases in crime

-Most dramatic increases in crime were during the 1960s/early 70s

-Gary LaFree attributes this to the decline in the legitimacy of social institutions which  lowered their social commitment to the conventional social order

-Crime rate began to decline in the 1990s and continues to decline today

-A large proportion of crime is not reported to police so it’s not in the UCR -Especially rape and domestic violence

-Crime statistics are outcomes of organizational processes that are conditioned by “the  interpretations, decisions, and actions of law enforcement personnel” (Kitsuse and Cicourel) -Officers are more likely to record a crime when the complainant is white-collar,  respectful to police, and prefers formal action (Black)

-Complaints by women who have questionable moral character are treated more  skeptically

-Clearance Rate: The rate of solved crimes

-Calculated by dividing the number of reports by the number of arrests  

-Violent crimes (especially homicide) have a higher clearance rate than property crimes -Differential Criminal Involvement or Differential Likelihood of Selection: Whether higher  arrest rates are indicative of a group’s greater involvement in these types of offenses or whether  they are indicative of member’s vulnerability to being apprehended by police (labeling theory) -Could be both

-Broken Windows: Idea that broken windows left unrepaired send a message that no one cares  about the community, leaving untended property available for vandals and setting in motion a  downward spiral of increasing disorder that emboldens more serious criminals- James Wilson  and George Kelling

-Under Giuliani, the NYPD enforced aggressive policing with zero tolerance for minor  crimes in hopes that this would reduce more serious crimes in the city

-This may have had an impact on declining crime rates, but it wasn’t just the police alone -Age and Crime:

-Some criminologists attribute the rise in crime rates during the 60s/70s to the coming of  age baby-boomers- they peaked in adolescence during this time

-However the changing age structure only accounts for a small proportion of variations in  crime rates

-Some believe that the reduction of crime could be because of the legalization of abortion -The number of “at-risk” disadvantaged youths decreased because they weren’t being  born to low-income mothers

-Most criminologists believe it was a combination of a multitude of factors

Other Counts of Crime:

-Victimization Surveys: Alternative way of counting crime; National Crime Victimization  Survey (NCVS); hoped that this would provide information on criminal victimizations that  remained unreported or unknown to the police

-Found that only about 46% of violent victimizations and 36% of property victimizations  come to the attention of law enforcement  

-There are no questions about drug offenses or white-collar crimes and homeless people  aren’t sampled  

-Two-stage process- follow up questions administered  

-Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of victimization, which declines  with age

-Bi/multi-racial people have the highest rates of any demographic  

-Females more likely with sexual violence, while men are more likely by nonsexual  violence  

-Self-Report Surveys: Respondents are asked to provide all information on offenses they have  committed  

-Mostly conducted with adolescents in schools

-Suffer from memory problems of those who take them

-Contain little distortion due to intentional deception  

-Delinquent behavior is widespread among youths from all social backgrounds -Prevalence of Offending: The proportion of a particular group that has engaged in law violation -Incidence of Offending: The frequency of offending within the subgroup of offenders (Elliot) -Low social class promotes delinquency by increasing alienation, financial strain, and aggression  while high social class promotes delinquency by increasing the inclination towards risk-taking  and decreasing their commitment to conventional moral values (Bradley Wright)

Counting White-Collar Crime:

-UCR, NCVS, and self-report surveys lack attention to white-collar crime -Sutherland collected data on 980 legal decisions against corporations

-Found that over 90% of the corporations he studied had four or more violations against  them

-Clinard and Yeager collected data on the 477 largest US manufacturing corporations during  1975/76

-Found that about 60% had at least one legal action against them

Class Notes: 

-Why people don’t report crime

-May be involved in illegal activity

-They’re embarrassed  

-Don’t want to put up with the hassle

-With rape or DV, they’re shamed, fear retaliation, or depended on the offender

Crime Readings: 

Scare Headlines Exaggerated Article: 

-There has been an increase in homicides in 2015 in big US cities of about 16% -Most changes aren’t statistically significant on a city level

-Could be a fluke

-Could be just to get a media story

Week 3:

Crime, Justice, and Society Chapter 3-Individualistic Explanations of Crime: 

-Theory: A set of interconnected concepts or ideas that condense and organize knowledge to help  explain our lives and the world around us

-Guides empirical research, which in turn confirms or disconfirms theory

-Individualistic Explanations of Crime: Theories that locate the central causes within the  individual rather than within society or social environment

Biological Explanations

-Assume that criminals are particular kinds of people who possess some flawed or defective trait -Social Darwinism: Life evolved from a process of natural selection and survival of the fittest -Differences in people’s natural ability to compete for scarce resources

-Lombroso: Purported founder of scientific criminology and the biological approach to crime -Believed that many criminals were born atavists, or less highly evolved than law-abiding  citizens and that they could be recognized by distinctive physical traits that he considered  among “savages and apes” and the “colored races”

-These individuals were unintelligent, idle, resistant to pain, and had a craving for evil -Super racist and sexist

-Women were less evolved than men and were childlike and vengeful, but less inclined  toward crime  

-Had flawed research methods  

-Goring, another scientist, later repeated this research and found no difference along these  lines

-Criminal Anthropology: The practice of studying the criminal “as a physically anomalous  human type” (Nicole Rafter)

-Eugenics: A philosophy favoring social intervention to regulate the genetic composition of the  population through methods such as compulsory sterilization and restriction on the marriage of  immigration of undesirable groups

-Came from Social Darwinists

-Used by the Nazis

-Biosocial Theory: Focuses on the purported biological conditions that predispose some  individuals toward crime; interacts with and is triggered by environmental factors that don’t  produce the same response in people without these traits

-One can’t work without the other

-Nature and nurture

-Common criminal patterns among twins, but typically because they are treated the same in  society as each other

-There is a link between low levels of serotonin to low levels of self-control -Low-serotonin individuals appear to respond more slowly to external stimuli and are less  inhibited in their aggressive or impulsive behaviors (Crockett)

-Often difficult to analyze genetic vs environmental influences

-Tough to find a link between intelligence and crime

-Studies have found that low IQ is correlated with higher rates of juvenile delinquency -But youths with low IQs may feel more alienated/ dissatisfied with school, which may  weaken their stake in conformity and increase their delinquency  

-IQ tests also favor affluent, white juveniles

-School Failure Hypothesis: Students’ impairments lead to school failure, which initiates feelings  of rejection, frustration, and low self-esteem that are associated with involvement in delinquency -Susceptibility Hypothesis: It’s not school failure that leads to delinquency, although it’s a factor,  

but the neurological and intellectual impairments that lead to poor judgment and hyperactivity impulsivity

-Differential Treatment Hypothesis: Youths with these disabilities are not more involved in  delinquency than other youths, but that school, law enforcement, etc. treat them more harshly -Damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain is associated with serious juvenile offending; this  part of the brain controls functions of making moral judgments and managing emotions -Hormones may also have an effect

-But high testosterone levels may follow rather than precede aggressive behavior -PMS has been used as an excuse of delinquent behavior

-made her “Irritable, aggressive, impatient, and confused, with loss of self-control”  -Link between post-partum depression and women’s criminality  

-More environmental than hormonal though

Psychological Explanations

-Criminals have an assortment of defective mental, emotional, or personality traits that either  cause criminal behavior or predispose individuals to the environmental factors that trigger it -Psychoanalytic Theory: Freud’s theory that helps explain juvenile delinquency  

-Human personality consists of the id (primal needs), ego (self-image; balance), and  superego (conscience)

-Imbalances may develop among the id, ego, and superego, creating unconscious  psychological conflicts with individuals

-These imbalances may come from early parent-child interaction, which is extremely  important

-Weak parental socialization > superego will underdevelop and id will dominate> instant  gratification of selfish needs, impulsive and aggressive behavior

-Overbearing parental discipline > overly rebellious and will be defiant to authority  -Critics believe that this is too speculative and it’s neither observable nor measurable  -Psychopath or Sociopath: An individual who is said to lack impulse control and the capacity to  experience guilt or a sense of caring, responsibility, or obligation to others -Low self-control: Difficulty delaying gratification and tolerating frustration, unable to solve  problems though verbal rather than physical means, and are self-centered and indifferent to the  needs and feelings of others  

-Hirschi argues that low self-control is the identifying factor in offenders

-M’Naghten Rule: A defendant can be found not guilty by reason of insanity if it can “be clearly  proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a  defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he  was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong” (Sykes) -Irresistible Impulse: Recognized a defect of will; made the cognitive awareness of right and  wrong less significant than the ability to control one’s actions when an individual was so  impaired by mental illness that they could not refrain from doing what their reason told them was  wrong (Sykes)

-Guilty but Mentally Ill: Defendants may be held criminally responsible for their crimes, but they  are first sent to a mental health facility for treatment; afterward they are transferred to a prison to  serve the remainder of their sentences

-Attempted by less than 1% of defendants, only ¼ of whom are successful  -Psychological Behaviorism: Behavior is acquired or conditioned by the effects, outcomes, or  consequences it has on a person’s environment (Skinner)

-Individuals learn to favor criminal behavior based on the rewards and punishments  -Rehabilitative treatment attempts to help offenders uncover the childhood root causes of their  behavior or gain insight more generally into they they behave as they do and to train individuals  to monitor and control their actions more effectively  

-Successful programs generally require a more comprehensive approach than is typically  available  

Rational Choice and Deterrence:

-Classical Criminology: Arose in the 18th century to counter views that criminal behavior was  because of supernatural forces

-Revived by Gary Becker in 1968

-Part of the Enlightenment  

-Included Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham

-Rational Choice Theory: Individuals who break the law and violate the social contract rationally  choose to commit crime because they believe that the pleasures or benefits of such actions  outweigh the pains or costs

-Deterrence: The role of the government is to manipulate this rational calculation of benefits and  costs by maintaining a level of punishment that exceeds the potential rewards of crime -Criminal justice system is too lenient and we should crack down on crime -Certainty, celerity (swiftness), and severity of punishment

-Certainty of punishment is more highly associated with lower crime rates than severity, but the  effect of certainty is weak

-Individuals’ perceptions of punishment may be more significant than the actual punishment  itself

-Studies find that perceived certainty has a greater effect than perceived severity and that  perceived certainty has a greater effect on an individual’s decision to continue breaking  the law than it does on their decision to break the law in the first place (Paternoster)

-As juveniles grew older, many underwent maturational reform and ceased from delinquency as  they took on the responsibilities of work and family life (Matza)

-Irving Piliavan found that while “risks of punishment have virtually no impact on criminal  behavior… persons who perceive greater opportunity to earn money illegally are more likely to  violate the law”

-One’s internalized evaluation of right and wrong may have more of an effect on whether they  will violate the law

-Crimes committed out of emotional or economic desperation may not involve a cost-benefit  analysis

-Risk of getting caught may be part of the thrill

Crime Readings: 

Wilson and Herrnstein - “A Bio-Psychological Theory of Choice”: 

-Behavior is determined by its consequences  

-The larger ratio of the net rewards of crime to the net rewards of noncrime, the greater the  tendency to commit the crime

-The value of the reward or punishment is somewhat uncertain

-There are temporal dimensions of rewards and punishment (being rewarded immediately  or being punished in a year)

-The strength of any reward declines with time

-Reduction in the delay and uncertainty of the rewards of noncrime will reduce the probability of  crime

-It may be easier to reduce crime by making penalties swifter or more certain, rather than more  severe, if the people committing the crimes are highly present-oriented

Moffitt et al. – “Males on the Life-Course: Persistent and Adolescent-Limited Antisocial  Pathways” 

-Tests and refines a developmental taxonomy of antisocial behavior  

-Life-course-persistent (LCP) offenders: anti-social behavior begins in childhood and continues  worsening thereafter

-Adolescence-limited (AL) offenders: antisocial behavior begins in adolescence and desists in  young adulthood

-Theory: LCP antisocials are few, persistent, and pathological; AL antisocials are common,  relatively temporary, and near normative

-Abstainer group are now successful young adults

-Recovery group are now suffering “internalizing problems”

-LCP group are the most violent and least likely to reform

-AL group have problems not limited to adolescence  

Breitenbecher – “The Relationship Among Self-Blame, Psychological Distress, and Sexual  Victimization”: 

-Purpose to examine the factor structure of survivors’ attributions for previously experienced  assaults and implications of these attributions for psychological adjustment and to assess the  relationship between self-blame and frequency of past victimizations

-Survivors’ attributions for their assaults were composed of five factors: perpetrator blame,  characterological self-blame, situational or chance blame, behavioral self-blame, and societal  blame  

Week 4:

Crime, Justice, and Society Chapter 4- Microsocial Explanations of Crime: 

-Macrosociological Theories: Focus on elements of social structure that are characteristic of  communities or entire societies; big picture; what trends occur that cause crime to rise; patterns  of crime

-Microsociological Theories: Examine the link between individuals and society by focusing on  the process by which “individuals acquire social attributes through interaction with others”  (Barlow); focuses on how someone becomes a criminal

-Can be understood as social psychological because they consider how individuals learn  to favor/disfavor criminal courses of action, how they are socialized through social  relationships, and how they interpret for the meaning of their actions

-Emphasize how normal people respond to social environments  

Symbolic Interaction and Social Learning

-Differential Association Theory: Sutherland; “Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with  other persons in a process of communication… within intimate personal groups” (Sutherland);

behaviorist strain says that criminal behavior is learned through a mix of rewards and  punishments  

-A person becomes delinquent or criminal when they are exposed to an excess of  definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law -Symbolic Interactionism: George Herbert Mead; concerned with the symbolic meaning of social  action for the individual; the same experience could mean something different for every  individual, so these meanings and every person’s sense of self are acquired through social  interaction with others

-Strain of Differential Association Theory

-What matters is the relative frequency (how often you spend time), duration (how much time),  priority (how early in life you began associating with them), and intensity (how important) of the  crime-inducing and crime-inhibiting associations  

-Sutherland realized that individuals are subject to change over time in the course of ongoing  interactions

-Social Learning Theory: Akers and Sellers; merges differential association theory and  behaviorist psychology to examine processes that motivate and control criminal behavior and  promote and undermine conformity; includes the concepts of imitation and differential  reinforcement

-Akers found that imitation is “more important in the initial acquisition and performance  of novel behavior than in the maintenance or cessation of behavioral patterns once  established”

-Differential reinforcement is the balance of anticipated or actual rewards and  punishments that follow or are consequences of behavior  

-Found that differential association and other social learning variables were effective at  predicting adolescent alcohol and drug use

-Social learning theory and differential association theory suggest rehabilitative interventions  with group dynamics to reinforce conventional behavior  

-Like peer group counseling, positive peer culture, and therapeutic communities -Therapeutic communities show remarkably consistent reductions in criminal behavior for those  who complete the programs (Lipton)  

-General Strain Theory: Robert Agnew; strain results from not only the actual or perceived  failure to achieve goals, but from a broader array of stressful or negative life experiences  -Techniques of Neutralization: Sykes and Matza; most law violators have some appreciation or  resect for conventional values and must neutralize the hold those values have on them through  various self-rationalization or justifications; five main techniques for delinquent youths

-Denial of responsibility: their behavior is due to external forces, like unloving parents -Denial of injury: no harm has been caused by their actions; borrowing something stolen -Denial of the victim: saying that someone deserved the crime; unfair teacher, women  who was raped was “asking for it”

-Condemnation of the condemners: attention shifts from youth to disapproving others;  hypocrites, corrupt police officer, abusive parent  

-Appeal to higher loyalties: sacrifice the rules of the larger society for demands of smaller  group, like a clique or gang

-Critics of Sykes and Matza say that the techniques of neutralization actually precede rather than  follow delinquent acts and that they are more of mechanisms that facilitate youths already  involved in crime

-Sutherland found that white-collar criminals rely on similar rationalizations for crimes -They don’t usually have to look their victims in the eyes, as they are usually anonymous -Primary Deviation: The initial impulse for rule violation

-Secondary Deviation: How labeling transforms the initial behavior into a stable pattern -Labeling theory  

-Labeling people as criminals can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that promotes further  involvement in crime

-Internal negative stigma and suffers a decline in self-esteem

-Research usually finds that youths don’t experience a decline in self-esteem following  arrest

-Having delinquent peers may actually increase their self-esteem

-Excessive official intervention in youth life may make matters worse, because police conflict  solidifies youths’ commitment to gangs (Hagedorn)

-Devah Pager found that the stigmatization of criminals in extremely debilitating in the job  market

-She found that even non-incarcerated/never incarcerated blacks were less likely to be  called back for a job than previously incarcerated whites  

-Disintegrative Shaming: John Braithwaite; the offender continues to be treated as an outsider, is  not forgiven for past sins, and is thus more likely to relapse into crime after having difficulty  reentering the community

-Reintegrative Shaming: The offender is shamed, but if remorseful, they are forgiven, welcomed  back into the fold, and become involved in supportive community relationships  -Labeling may promote criminal identification so some criminologists favor “radical  nonintervention” or use of less punitive measures when dealing with some offenders or  decriminalization (removal of criminal sanctions)

-these remain controversial  

Social Control and the Life Course

-Social Control Theory: Started by Durkheim but continued by Hirschi; “the more weakened the  groups to which one belongs, the less he depends on them, the more he consequently depends  only on himself and recognizes no other rules of conduct than what are founded on his private  interests” (Hirschi)

-Conformity arises only if a person establishes a bond with he conventional society  through the socialization process

-Weak bond > free from social constraint > more at risk for delinquency

-Social bond conceptualized in four elements

-Attachment: the ties of mutual affection and respect between children and their parents,  teachers, friends

-Commitment: an individual’s stake in conformity, as indicated by a youth’s willingness  to conform to ideal requisites of childhood and their assessment of anticipated losses  associated with nonconformity

-Involvement: participation in conventional activities that minimize idle and unsupervised  time

-Belief: acceptance of the moral validity of laws  

-Parents are the key agents of social control during childhood and adolescence  -Hirschi found that the quality of family interaction is more important than the number of  parents

-Hirschi also argued that effective familial bonds that promote the development of personal self control in young children are the first line of defense in the fight against crime -The criminal justice system is the last line of defense

-Argued that the criminal justice system comes too late to be rehabilitative  -Social control theory says that religion may strengthen the bond between individuals and society  and promote moral beliefs that discourage deviancy  

-But Hirschi and Stark found that there was no association between delinquency and  church attendance or the belief in a god

-But other research finds that this may depend on the denomination and geographical  context (Jews and highly ascetic Christians, as well as people in more rural communities,  has less delinquency)

-Stark believes that it’s more the beliefs of most of one’s friends that determine  delinquency

-Religion is closely tied to family influences so it could be a combination of both -Life Course: A developmental pathway or “sequence of culturally defined age-graded roles and  social transitions that are enacted over time” (Sampson)

-Sampson and Laub say that the establishment of bonds in adulthood can attenuate and modify  previous experiences and patterns of behavior across the life course

-They found that childhood and adolescent delinquency were predictive of later-life  criminality, but young men who married and found stable employment were more likely  to desist from crime than those who didn’t  

-It’s not simply marriage that increases social control, but the close emotional ties and  strong attachment that increases bonds to society

Class Notes: 

-Differential Association  

-you learn criminal behavior from intimate interactions

-family/peer groups  

-learn motives, rationalizations

-intensity of ties that matter/ frequency  


-not super conservative

-supported therapeutic communities (peer group counseling, AA)

-Sykes and Matza


-Labeling theory

-interested in the audience

-labeling as a delinquent as a kid has negative effects later on  

-putting someone in prison will increase crime

-they get labeled as a criminal and can’t escape it

-everyone calls you a criminal, even if you want to get straight

-secondary deviance  

-interested in how outside forces influence you to commit crime again

-self-fulfilling prophecy

-stigma/shaming –Braithwaite

-disintegrative shaming vs reintegrative shaming  

-never forgiven -can get back in if remorse

-formal shaming -no formal shaming but maybe informal shaming

Crime Readings: 

“Exploring the Utility of Social Control Theory for Youth Development” –Huebner and Betts -Control theories focus on the relationship between the individual and his bonds to society -Deviant acts are thought to occur when bonds are broken

-Bonds are mechanisms through which positive development occurs and negative outcomes are  avoided

-Bonds: attachment to parents/school/peers, commitment to conventional lines of action,  involvement in conventional activities, and belief in common value system  -attachment bonds may have different effects for males and females

-attachment bonds were significantly related to females and males, but not adult attachment -support hypothesis for inverse relationship between attachment and delinquency

“The Nature of Criminality- Low Self-Control” – Gottfredson and Hirschi  -immediacy; simple/easy gratification; exciting, risky; few long-term benefits; little  skill/planning; pain/discomfort in victim

-relief from momentary irritation

-people who lack self-control will tend to engage in criminal acts

“The Stability and Resiliency of Self-Control in a Sample of Incarcerated Offenders”- Mitchell  -people with high self-control are less likely under all circumstances to commit crime -once formed, an individual’s level of self-control is resilient to change

-testing stability hypothesis in largely urban and non-white sample of incarcerated offenders -found that self-control was stable in neither absolute nor relative terms during short (6 months) -self-control decreased while imprisoned

-imprisonment may increase propensity towards crime

“Toward an Age-Graded Theory of Informal Social Control” Sampson and Laub -argue that important institutions of informal and formal social control vary across life spans -examine the extent to which social bonds inhibit crime and deviance in life course (early) and  consequences for later development


-family process have either (in)direct effects on delinquency

-negative consequences of childhood misbehavior extend to broader spectrum of adult  life

-changes that strengthen social bonds to society in adulthood will lead to less crime and  deviance

“Does Marriage Reduce Crime?”- Sampson, Laub, and Wimer 

-people don’t stay criminals forever; things can make them change

-a change in criminal behavior may occur in response to the attachment or social bond that forms  as a result of marriage

-marriage leads to significant changes in everyday routines and patterns of association with  others

-marriage may lead to gendered desistance because of the direct social control exerted by female  spouses  

-marriage can change one’s sense of self through cognitive transformation -marriage influences criminal behavior in men

-results: being married is associated with a significant reduction in the probability of crime

“Labeling Criminals”- Schur 

-crimes’ nature, distribution, social meaning, and implications and ramifications are significantly  influenced by patterns of social reaction

-an individual’s designation as an offender depends on what other people do with respect to them -doesn’t depend directly on their own acts

-both the individual’s behavior and his self-conceptions are constantly undergoing change;  responsive to others

-self-fulfilling prophecy- treats someone like criminal> they become one

-status-degradation ceremony: ritualized process by which condemned individual is stripped of  old identity and given a new (degraded) one

-impact of negative social reactions> propelled from isolated acts of criminality into more  involvement into criminal ways of life

Week 3:

Crime, Justice, and Society Chapter 5- Macrosocial Explanations of Crime: 

Social Disorganization and the Social Ecology of Crime

-Social Disorganization Theory: Residential location is a substantial factor in determining  whether that individual will be involved in criminal activities

-Assumes that frequent interaction among residents helps generate the informal  community controls that reduce crime

-Shaw and McKay found that crime and delinquency were highest in areas with concentrated  poverty and unemployment, physical dilapidation of buildings, residential overcrowding,  absence of homeownership, high residential mobility, influx of immigrant populations of diverse  cultures, and lack of “constructive agencies intended to promote well-being and prevent  maladjustment” (Shaw and McKay)

-The economic issues were not solely the problem, but that these neighborhoods didn’t provide stable social and cultural standards  

-Delinquent behavior is passed down through generations

-Youths interact with delinquents of their own age and also with older offenders -The Chicago Area Project: Shaw developed this project for the prevention and treatment of  delinquency and to facilitate cooperative activities among community groups to solve problems

-Believed that only through the collective mobilization and active participation of the  entire community was it possible to significantly improve the problem of delinquency  -The goal was to provide structured, supervised alternatives to crime

-It also helped reform education

-The environmental factors of social disorganization theory were favored by liberals over  individualistic theories until the 60s

-They came to believe that this was too similar “kinds of persons” theories because society was now seeing certain places as inherently criminal

-Communities were being blamed for a problem that was not wholly in their control -Deindustrialization of the economy: The shift from manufacturing to low-paid service work  -This combined with the flight of the middle class from the inner city to the suburbs have  depleted the middle class of valuable economic and social resources and left behind a  large concentration of the “truly disadvantaged” or urban underclass

-Residential mobility and high population turnover weaken informal neighborhood controls  because people aren’t familiar with each other and don’t have a strong stake in the community,  so they are less likely to help each other to prevent victimization from crime (Bursik) -This is sometimes called collective efficacy by Sampson, defined as the social cohesion among  neighbors that affects their willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good -Sampson and Groves found that the effect of economic disadvantage on crime was due to weak  local friendship networks, low participation in voluntary organizations, and low supervision of  teenage peer groups

-Because they don’t have adequate parenting models, many poor women raising their children  alone in socially disorganized neighborhoods lack necessary parenting skills to effectively discipline their children

-Extended Domestic Networks: households composed of immediate kin, extended kin, and  nonkin

-Eleanor Miller found that females’ involvement in these was a primary means by which  they were recruited into “deviant networks” of street prostitution and hustling -Routine Activities Theory: Possible to bypass explanations of criminal motivation and simply  assume that there will always be a sufficient number of individuals willing to take advantage of  the opportunity to commit crime (Cohen and Felson); aimed at modifying the behavior of  potential victims

-They observed that the probability of crime increased when there was a convergence in  physical space and time of motivated offenders, suitable targets, and the absence of  capable guardians

-There are hot spots for crime that when daily activities take someone there, they are  more likely to be victimized

-Those who are involved in crime themselves are more likely to be victimized as well -Critics of routine activities theory state that it doesn’t account for women -Herman and Schwendinger found argue that reducing female dependency on male  guardianship will decrease rather than increase sexual violence against women by  empowering them

-Min Xie also found that absolute increases in women’s labor force participation, income,  and education were associated with decreases in intimate-partner violence; although  reduction in gender inequality as opposed to women’s advancement increased intimate partner violence

-Routine activities theory is helpful when thinking about gang rape

-Places like college campuses bring together in space and time motivated offenders  (sexually predatory males) and suitable targets (female party-goers) in activities (partying  and drinking) without guardians

-Situational Crime Prevention: Aimed at modifying the behavior of potential victims -A potential side effect of situational crime prevention is crime displacement -Crime Displacement: Motivated offenders simple decide to commit their crimes elsewhere or at  other times; although it’s a problem, it’s not an inevitable consequence of SCP

Crime and the American Dream: Anomie-Strain Theory  

-Anomie: Durkheim’s term for a state of normlessness whereby individuals were isolated, cut  adrift, and lacking in common bond that brought them into sympathetic relationships with others -Functionalism: Derived from Durkheim but defined by Merton; Views society as an organism consisting of a number of interdependent parts that contribute to the overall functioning of the  whole

-In a functional society, social institutions like the family and government help satisfy  basic human needs and socialize individuals to take on their appropriate roles in society -In a dysfunctional society, these institutions break down or become unbalanced,  straining the relationship between individuals and society and weakening their  commitment to the normative legal order

-Merton differed from Durkheim in the fact that it wasn’t simply normlessness but that there was  a lack of integration between goals and means in society

-Strain: Thus a strain occurs when people had a dream but lacked the access to the means to  fulfill it; they experienced a strain with society and became frustrated, angered, and felt injustice about the hand they were dealt in life

-Anomie-Strain Theory: The greatest pressures for criminal conduct reside in the lower classes  and among disadvantaged racial and ethnic minority groups because they lack the means to turn  their dreams into reality

-Those who turn to crime aren’t different from the rest of us at heart; they aren’t predisposed to crime and given the chance, they would prefer to take a more conventional  path to success

-Relative Deprivation: Poverty isn’t the problem, but poverty amid affluence in a society that  values certain goals

-Therefore studies have found that not poverty levels, but the level of economic  inequality are more strongly related to crime

-Merton said that people adapted to strain in five different ways

-Conformity: Pursuing noncriminal outcomes by moderating their expectations to be  more realistic  

-Ritualism: Noncriminal adaptation that involves a more permanent scaling down of  unattainable success goals and an overemphasis on the institutionalized means in and of  themselves (working in a dead-end job)

-Innovation: When people continue to embrace financial success goals but pursue them through illegitimate means (winning at all costs; property crime)

-Retreatism: Withdrawing altogether from the pursuit of legitimate success goals, legally  or illegally (alcoholism, drug addiction, mental disorders)

-Rebellion: Rejection of legitimate goals and means and the substitution of new ones  (Anti-capitalism)  

-LBJ’s War on Poverty created opportunity programs that were administered by social service  professionals and comprehensive action projects that mobilized residents to engage in local  collective action

-In the 60s, NYC implemented Mobilization of Youth, which aimed to create job opportunities  through training and guidance, improve educational opportunities through teacher training,  provide services to youths and families, and establish neighborhood councils and mobilize low income residents for social action

-It didn’t hold up, as people accused it of having communist sympathies and misusing government funds

Conflict Theory

-Conflict Theory: Assumes that definitions of crime and the enforcement of criminal laws often  lack societal consensus and are subject to the assertion of economic and political power and the  struggles of competing groups in society

-Class conflict: Marx; conflict between capitalists and workers where each side tries to defend  and advance their competing interests

-Richard Quinney says that crime occurs in all social classes, but criminal law is unevenly  enforced and usually directed at subordinate groups

-Economic Domination: These are financial crimes like fraud and dangerous working conditions  that corporations commit

-Crimes of Accommodation and Resistance: These are crimes committed by workers, like  stealing and participating in illegal strikes

-Crimes of Repression: These are crimes committed by governments that include police brutality  and illegal domestic surveillance

-Surplus Population: Potential laborers that are usually unemployed in a capitalist economic system; they are hired when needed but keep wages down by increasing competition for jobs -Street Crime: Committed by the surplus population who are most vulnerable to it; includes theft,  violence, drug use, etc.; exacerbated the plight of the disadvantaged  

-Racial Conflict: Occurs when racial minority groups struggle to overcome oppression (Civil  Rights Movement)

-Civil Disobedience: The deliberate yet nonviolent public refusal to obey a law that one thinks is  unjust; used during the Civil Rights Movement  

-Social protests like this can spill over into violence  

-Culture Conflict: Defined by Thorsten Sellin as “when persons acting according to the norms  and violations of their own group violate those of another group that have been enacted into law” (Sellin)

-Examples include the Prohibition movement and abortion law

-Culture conflict also occurs when foreign immigrants violate the laws of a new country just by  behaving by the norms of their own country

-Feminist Criminology: An approach to crime that explains with an eye to the patriarchal context  that arose when criminologists were dissatisfied with the neglect of gender in theorizing about  crime and that it had ignored or misrepresented female offenders or victims -Some research indicated that most of the increases in female criminality occurred in the area of  nonviolent property offenses and this could be explained by rising divorce rates, more female  heads of households, downturn in the economy, and increased opportunities for theft  (Steffensmeier)

-Males have a greater inclination toward crime while the opposite is true for women -There are blurred boundaries for women with victimization and criminalization because women  often commit crimes while fleeing abusive situations

-DeKeseredy and Schwartz found that children who grow up watching their mothers get abused  are more likely to grow up to be delinquents  

-One way to reduce street crime against men is to reduce violence in the home against  women

-Peacemaking Criminology: Pepinsky and Quinney; involves attempts to weave and reweave  ourselves with others in a social fabric of mutual love, respect, and concern -Crime is a social relationship of power

-Power: The ability to impose one’s will on another (or others) despite attempted resistance -Hagan: “To perpetuate a crime is to impose one’s power on others while to be punished for crime is to be subject to the power of others”

-Crime is an integral part of society  

Class Notes: 

-Conflict Theory

-Theory about domination

-Law is a place where you can see who’s dominating whom  

-Law is a reflection of the interest of the ruling class (taxes)

-Hirschi: Why don’t people commit crime?

-What keeps you from committing crime are bonds to peer groups and family -Requires socialization early on

-Elements: commitment, involvement, beliefs, attachment

-Starts in adolescence and continues  

-Group Crimes (Situational)


Friends’ attitudes + Own attitudes Solo crimes in toward deviance previous years +

Perceptions of friends’

attitudes toward deviance


Friends’ attitudes Own attitudes Group crimes in toward deviance previous years +

Perceptions of friends’

attitudes toward deviance

-They found that friends’ attitudes toward deviance, the perceptions of friends’ attitudes toward  deviance, and their own attitudes all influenced their involvement in group and solo crimes -This didn’t support Sutherland’s theory

-Hirschi believed that once you were a criminal, you were always a criminal -He found in his research that attachment bonds were more important for females, as they  are controlled more in their home life

-Involvement bonds were stronger for males

-He also found that self-control is resilient to change

Crime Readings: 

“Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas”- Shaw and McKay 

-alleged delinquents concentrated mainly in areas with decreasing population and low rentals,  with high percentages of families on relief; largely foreign born population -those most recently segregated; industrial/center of city

-areas of high rates of delinquents around 1900 were the high rate areas several decades later -they want the city to become organized through social work  

-they would reform curriculum in school, employ more people, and give money to businesses to  create organized social control

“Social Structure and Anomie”- Merton 

-aim to discover how some social structures exert a definite pressure upon certain persons in the  society to engage in nonconformist conduct

-conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, rebellion  

-innovators are the most likely to commit crime

-the rebellious are likely to commit political crime

“Crime and Structural Contradictions” - Chambliss 

-criminal behavior is generated because of the contradictions that inevitability arise in the course  of life

-criminal laws emerge, change, and develop as people attempt to respond to conflicts generated  by contradictions in political/economic organization of the world

-wage, profits, and consumption contradictions  

-questioned whether increasing profits will encourage investment or increasing wages  will encourage consumption- these are the contradictions  

-this leads to crime with workers and owners- contradictions

-wage and labor supply contradictions

-capitalism can’t work without reserved labor force (surplus labor)

-this is an inherent contradiction

-when the reserved labor force becomes unemployed, they commit street crime and go to  prison

-so mass incarceration has to do with capitalism

“Vigilantism, Current Racial Threat, and Death Sentences”- Jacobs, Carmichael, Kent -consider whether the vigilantism used to control ex-slaves created an enduring repressive  tradition that continues to produce additional death sentences in place of lynchings -death sentences should be most common in states that currently have large population of  African-Americans combined with history of repeated lynchings

-expect more death sentences where conservative values dominate

-greater in states with most fundamentalist church memberships

-greater if judges face partisan elections

-research supported this

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