Sociological Theories and Crime

• Course Text: Schmalleger, F. (2015). Criminology today: An integrative introduction (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
o Chapter 7, " Social Structure Theories"
o Chapter 8, "Theories of Social Process and Social Development"
o Chapter 9, " Social Conflict Theories"
• DVD: The Prentice Hall ABC News Video Series for Introduction to Criminology
o Disc 2: "Life and Death in First Grade" (19:36)
Optional Resources
• DVD: The Prentice Hall ABC News Video Series for Introduction to Criminology
o Disc 1: "The Strange Tale of John Dupont" (6:40)
o Disc 1: "Crime and Justice" (43:15)

Sociological Theories and Crime

You can take the criminal out of the environment, but can you take the environment out of the criminal?" While this question may be debatable, it represents an aspect of sociological perspectives on the causation of crime. According to your text, sociological perspectives, although diverse, attempt to explain crime and criminal behavior by examining the social structures in society and the interactions between social institutions, groups, and individuals. In addition, sociological perspectives focus on the influence of power relationships and their impact on social behavior. For example, according to the sociological perspective, a person born in poverty, having a poor education, and joins a gang influences the likelihood a person may engage in criminal behavior.

To prepare for this Discussion:

• Select a crime committed by an adolescent to use for this Discussion. It can be contemporary or historical, but it should not have been used as an example in your textbook.

• Review Chapter 7 of your course text. Consider how social structure theories account might account for the crime you selected.

• Review Chapter 8 of your course text. Focus on the process, development, and interaction of the individual in society. Think about how these theories explain adolescent criminal behavior and how they might account for the crime you selected.

• Review Chapter 9 of your course text. Pay particular attention to how conflict and inequality contribute to crime causation, and consider if and how they might explain the crime you selected.

• Reflect on the sociological theories you have reviewed. Think about which particular theories best explain the crime or criminal behavior you selected.

• Consider how you would apply one or more of the theories – or elements or aspects of one or more of the theories – to explain the cause of the crime you selected.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 a brief description of the sociological theory and adolescent crime you selected. Then explain how that theory would account for the adolescent criminal behavior. Be specific and use examples to illustrate your points.


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