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SOC 275 – CriminologyProfessor Anna-Maria MarshallLincoln Hall [email protected] (IMPORTANT: There’s no “a” between the “h” and “ll”)Office Hours: Wednesdays, 9:30 am – 11 am (or by appointment)- Criminologyo The body of knowledge regarding crimes as a social phenomenono Includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of lawso The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verifiedprinciples and of other types of knowledge and regarding this process of law, crime, and treatment- Overview of the courseo Crime, criminology, and crime trendso Theories of crimeo Typologies of crime - What we’re doing todayo Distinguish deviance from crime - Deviance and criminalityo Deviance Unpopular acts departing from social norms  How do we punish deviance: ridicule, ostracism  Deviant, not criminalo Criminality Conduct that violates the law Punishment: Jail, fines, sometimes execution - Research methods and Data in Criminologyo Aggregate data Uniform crime report- Created by the FBI with help from local police- Index crimeo Only the crimes that the FBI tend to be more interested ino Tend to be more serious felonies- Going to end up lower than the actual crime rate, people don’t always report crime Accuracy- Reporting practices- Law enforcement practiceso Survey research Criminals- Juvenile delinquency  Victims of crime- National Crime Victimization Survey o Cohort research Panel studies that look over criminals over a long period of timeo Qualitative research- Crime trendso Why crime went down? All possible explanations:- Technology – surveillance- Pop culture – don’t snitch- Abortion – unwanted children- Gun control laws- Increase in amount of police Factors that don’t explain reductions in crime:- Strong economy of the 1990s- Changing demographics- Policing techniques- Increased use of capital punishment  Explanations for decrease in crime (according to Steve Levitt)- Increase in number of police - Rising prison population - Receding crack epidemic - Legalization of abortion o Ecology o Ageo Gender o Guns and Violent Crime 20% of robberies 10% of Assaults 6% of rapes 70% of murders Instrumentality Theory- Guns are correlated with crime SO reducing the number of guns will reduce the amount of crime- Policies: o Licensingo Waiting periodso Stricter sentencing  Perpetrator Theory- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people- Guns are actually necessary for self defense- Policy: Concealed Weapons Law - Assignmentso Blogging Posting blog entries- Articles from newspaper web sites- 5 blog entries for the semester Posting comments on other blog entries- Keep it respectfulo Crime map Go to crimereports.com- Choose a category of crime and describe where it happens most often (CHOICE 1)- Choose a neighborhood and examine the kinds of crime that occurs there (Choice 2)- Look for something else interesting Write a 1-page essay about what you find- Guns and Crimeo John Lott’s Study of Concealed Weapons Law Average gun owner: white, conservative, middle-aged Violent crime goes down Property crime goes up Crime against women dropso Lott’s findings Concealed Weapons Laws reduce crime- Comparing the crime rate in states with concealed weapons laws to states without such lawso His evidence suggested that the violent crime rate is lower in states with concealed weapons laws BUT when others changed the “crime rate” variable from arrest rate to incarceration rate, the relationship disappearedo A Closer Look Other explanations for differences in crime rates?- Controlling for other factorso Population densityo Age of populationo Law enforcement practices- Measures of crimeo When you measured the rate of crime differently, the effect disappeared Methods?- Averaged crime rates across stateso Florida, Mississippi, Maine? Florida went down, Mississippi went up, Maine stayed about the same- Crime and the Mediao Media distorts information about crimeo Reciprocal effects between media and public attitudes about crimeo Crime News Reflection of reality?- Far more violent than it really is- More drugs and drug use- More strangers – people who don’t know each other victimizing each other- More African Americanso In custody, looking disoriented- More white, female victims- Emphasizes individual incidentso Encourages generalization from anecdotal evidenceo Little information about trends Why?- Definition of “news”o Conflicto Good vs. Evil- Organizational Needso The market for news- Reliance on Official Sourceso Crime is a source of popular entertainment  “surplus visibility” or crime- Violent crime, especially murder- Cable TV Significance?- Cause crime?o No, raises fear about crime, enhances support for severe punishment What stories get told about crime?- Vigilante police- Moral complexity- Impact of Crime and Media on the Audienceo Heavy viewers of “entertainment” Tend to overestimate serious crime Think crime is more prevalent than it really is More likely to distrust strangers Report crime is a serious problemo Experiments- Social Scientific Theorieso Concepts Broad ideas that reflect really complicated social phenomenon E.g. Crimeo Definitions of concepts, e.g. crime Nominal- E.g. breaking the criminal law/deviance Operational o Propositions linking the concepts Propose relationships between concepts Does poverty cause crime? NO.- Theoretical assumptionso How we know what we know Empirical testing Critical interpretationo Human Natureo Value judgments and policy implications- Testing theorieso Explanatory Power Generalizability - Different kinds of crime- Different places at different times Verification and falsificationo Evaluating theories What are the assumptions? How generalizable is the theory? How strong is the evidence?- Rational Choice Theory – the offender’s rational calculationo Maximizing benefits/minimizing costs Factors they consider:- Immediate need- Potential value of crime- Risk of apprehension- Seriousness of possible punishmento Context of the decision to commit a crime Personal characteristics of offender (criminality- Perception of opportunities- Learning and experience- Criminal techniques- Personality  Situational characteristics of offense (crime)- The place of the


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UIUC SOC 275 - Criminology

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