Criminal Justice-coas | Theories of Crime and Deviance
P200 | 8399 | Ahn


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 will discuss what we mean by
crime and social control.  We will also consider 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: Frank Schmalleger. Criminology Today: An Integrative
Introduction (second edition).
Requirements:  To be announced
Class Meeting: Two 50-minute lectures and one 50-minute
discussion section each week
Course Will Satisfy:     CJUS core requirement
Course Will Satisfy:     Social/Historical Studies (Social
Inquiry distribution requirement)
Instructor:         Helen Ahn, Criminal Justice Department