Criminal Justice-COLL | Theories of Crime and Deviance
P200 | 1815 | Schlegel
Few subjects capture attention and arouse curiosity more than crime.
Movie themes revolve around it, the media feeds upon it, and
politicians declare war on it. While crime trends have remained
relatively stable over the past twenty years, certain forms of crime,
involving certain subgroups, have fluctuated significantly in recent
times. The goal of this course is to better understand crime trends
and the nature and causes of criminal activity. The focus of this
course is on the offender, and the factors, circumstances or
conditions that influence involvement in law violating behavior. We
begin with a discussion of what we mean by crime and social control.
We then move on to talk about the nature and extent of crime, paying
particularly close attention to the way we measure crime and the
impact that measurement problems have on our systems of social
control. (For example, most of our measures of crime do not include
white collar crimes, yet these offenses involve greater financial and
physical harms that do many so-called common crimes). We will then
examine the major theories that attempt to explain criminal behavior.
We will begin with constitutional theories, which suggest that
criminal behavior is the product of the biological and psychological
constitution of the individual. This will be followed by
sociological theories -- those that account for criminal behavior by
examining the social environment of both individuals and groups. In
the process,we will look at such factors as the community, the
family, peers, schools, economic structures, etc., to better
understand the role they play in shaping conduct norms. Finally, we
will examine the role of opportunity structures for crime that
facilitate or impede law breaking behavior.
Readings: To be announced.
Requirements: One essay exam (rewrites possible)
One multiple choice exam
One final exam (multiple choice)
Class Meeting: Two 50-minute lectures (Monday and Wednesday, 12:20-
1:10)and one 50-minute discussion section each week
Course Will Satisfy: CJUS core requirement
Distribution credit: S&H
Instructor: Professor Kip Schlegel, Criminal Justice Department