Criminological Theory (Graduate)
Criminal Justice 8106 (formerly 406)
Fall 2008

crn 082962
Temple University

on the web at:
instructor main web site: 

Date of last update: 12/19/08


What is Criminology?
"Criminology is the study of law making, law breaking, and social reaction to law breaking."
--Edwin Sutherland.


Important information updates will appear in this box


- final grades for course posted. Go to main memo page. Call or email if there are concerns or questions.

- grades for movie papers posted - go to memo page

12/17/08 - several exam 2 items added - go to memo page

12/10/08 - added * questions for second exam * take away thoughts on Messner and Rosenfeld * end of semester learning goal questions * thoughts on how to prepare for real theory exam - go to memo page for these

11/9/08 Movie assignment added for final paper.

11/8/08 - Breaking Away questions added; St. Jean memo added including second part.

11/2 - St Jean questions added

10/27 - memo on gangs uploaded

10/26/08 - memo for first exam; questions for Venkatesh really uploaded

10/19 - memo and questions for Laub & Sampson uploaded or updated

10/13 - examples of possible questions posted for first in-class exam

10/3 - Intros added for Hirschi, Gottfredson & Hirschi

9/28/08 - Memo added based on 9/22/08 class; questions for Hirschi modified; Venkatesh questions added; additional readings added

9/21/08: Listening and speaking norms, 9/15 PPT, and Weisburd intro. all uploaded - go to memos

9/9 - 2 handouts, ppt: uploaded - go to memos; Weisburd questions added; Collins questions added

Why the Book Approach  
Classroom structure  
Attendance Expectations  
Your Grade  
Grading policies  
Sequence of Topics and Readings  
List of BOOKS to buy - alpha by author and in order assigned  
Recommended readings for the future  
Other sites on theory and criminological theory you may find useful (under construction)  
Who's who - link dropped  
LINKS TO QUESTIONS for readings and exams  
Paper assignment

Usage policies and legal notice for WEB pages. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on this WEB page and linked WEB pages (not publicatins) at the addresses are the sole property of Ralph B. Taylor and © 1999-2008 by Ralph B. Taylor. None of the opinions expressed on any of these WEB pages represent the opinions  of Temple University or Temple University's Department of Criminal Justice. The only viewpoint presented in these and other WEB pages is that of R. B. Taylor. All these WEB pages were converted from text pages and created as WEB pages by R. B. Taylor in his spare, discretionary time and not as part of required instructional activities, but rather as potential instructional enhancements. As part of his required instructional activities, R. B. Taylor has created paper, non-hyperlinked copies of these pages, and those will be distributed to all enrolled students. Further, the preparation and storage of all these WEB pages did not and does not involve Temple University resources in any manner. All users have the right to freely access and copy these WEB pages provided that they: acknowledge the source, do not make changes on any pages, and do not charge more than copying costs for distribution.  Further, all users by accessing this WEB page or any linked WEB pages in the domain or outside of it, do hereby explicitly and unconditionally indemnify the author of each accessed WEB page, including those in the domain, and all other domains linked to these pages,  from any and all liabilities or claims of damage arising from any variety of defects, inaccuracies, or misrepresentations appearing therein, or arising from trauma or suffering experienced as a result of exposure to any materials taken to be offensive, insensitive, unpatriotic, ill-conceived or otherwise distasteful; or from any uses to which these materials are put.


Instructor R. B. Taylor
Time Monday 5 - 7:30 (may shift) , Gladfelter 533 
Office 536-537 Gladfelter Hall
Office Hours Friday 11:00 - 1:00 and by appointment
If these times do not work and you need to see me, please call and we can set up an appointment any time.

Further I have a "you can hide but you can't run open and closed door" office policy. This means that outside of posted office hours (a) if my office door is open feel free to c'mon in and (b) If my door is closed but I am here do not hesitate to knock; I am happy to speak with you if I am not under a raging deadline.

Contact 215.204.7169 (v); 610.446.9023 (fax).
You also can ring 1-7918 and ask Ms. Salerno (1-7918) if we need to chat and the phone is not being picked up.
I will give you folks my home phone number. Since you are graduate students calls in the evenings and weekends are ok.

EMAIL: at write to: tuclasses

Current Temple University Syllabus policy also requires that a current Temple e-mail address be listed. It is ralph.taylor at the address

BUT PLEASE DO NOT USE IT! I schedule when I look for student emails, and if you do not send it to the gmail account I am more likely to miss it.

Disability statement

You may require special services if you are sight or hearing impaired, or if you wish to register for gaining extra time for taking exams or completing assignments. If you are in this situation let me know within the first two weeks of the semester, please!

 Academic Rights and Responsibilities
Temple University students who believe that instructors are introducing extraneous material into class discussions or that their grades are being affected by their opinions or views that are unrelated to a course’s subject matter can file a complaint under the University’s policy on academic rights and responsibilities.  The full policy can be found at:

The policy encourages students to first discuss their concerns with their instructor.  If a student is uncomfortable doing so, or if discussions with the instructor do not resolve the student’s concerns, an informal complaint can be made to the Student Ombudsperson for the student’s school or college.  Unresolved complaints may be referred to the dean for handling in accordance with the school or college’s established grievance procedure. Final appeals will be determined by the Provost.


An ability to read fairly massive amounts of material in a relatively short period of time and organize those materials;
* an ability and willingness to participate in in-class discussions and even lead discussion on occasion;
* an open and inquiring mind about the three main topics, described in Sutherland's quote above;
* an ability to write effective and organized relatively short essays.

If you have questions about whether you meet any of these prerequisites, we should talk and you should consider putting off taking this course.

Controversial Subject Matter

Controversy and Norms

Even though this is a graduate class we will be talking about listening and speaking norms. The materials covered in this class can be viewed and reacted to in different ways, depending on a range of personal factors, including political orientation. Even though it may seem juvenile to talk about these norms, I think it may help grow and clarify the comfort boundaries for in-class discussions.


This course has one simple purpose: to begin to expose doctoral and MA students to important theoretical works in criminology.

If you are a doctoral student, then there is a second purpose as well: to give you experience responding to the types of questions you are likely to encounter on the "theory" portion of the advanced exam. More specifically, there are two in-class exams which are meant to simulate, in terms of the questions assigned, and the conditions under which the exams are given, the actual advanced exams. This is called modeling or practicing to the criterion.

Even though the advanced exams are much dreaded this course will I hope, pique your interest. We will be wrestling with some of the most fundamental and vexing questions in the disciplines of criminal justice / criminology / sociology / psychology.

I hope that the course also will be a searching one for you yourself. I hope that by the end of the semester you will have your own position on some of the perennial questions addressed here. These are important questions and you need to grow your way into answers to these.

Why the Book Approach

If you look at some of the ways a "theory" course in criminology is structured in other doctoral programs, you will likely find many courses which are

* structured around volumes of short readings; and/or
* that organize theories into biological vs. psychological vs. sociological perspectives

I have opted instead in this course to expose you to a small number of theories, some of which are proto-theories, some of which are well developed, some of which are quite new and may in the long run not be deemed valuable.

Rather than have you race breathlessly through dozens of theories, I have structured the class so that you can read about and consider carefully about a dozen. I hope that with this approach you will gain a deeper understanding of each theory, moving past cookie-cutter memorization, and, more importantly,  gain a better appreciation of what theorizing is, how it works, and how to unpack it.

Except for the first volume which is a case study, each of these books presents you with an argument. One of the competencies you will acquire in this class is learning how to scope out what each book's argument is, and, in addition, how to develop a critical response to that model.

Classroom Structure

This class will be run as a seminar.

Dictionary definition:

  1. [n]  a course offered for a small group of advanced students
  2. [n]  any meeting for an exchange of ideas

One scholar's definition:

"The seminar is that midpoint between the lecture and the individual tutorial." (Jay Parini (July 23, 2004). "The Well-tempered seminar." The Chronicle Review.) To read Parini's full article, CLICK HERE

Note the phrases in the dictionary definition "advanced students" and "exchange of ideas." One definition of exchange is "to give and receive reciprocally."

This means YOU are going to do a lot of talking, and we are ALL going to be doing a LOT of listening and thinking. I and other students will be asking questions. I and you will be discussing and providing "answers" and reflecting out loud. We are all in the process of growing our way into understanding particular theories, and into understanding theorizing more generally.

Parini also tells his students at the beginning of each seminar: "This seminar is not about me. It's about you. The success or failure of the class will rest on your shoulders as well as mine. The only thing I expect of you when you walk into this room is, well, everything. I want your heart and mind at this table."

Toward that end I expect you to have all cell phones, pagers, pdas, ipods, headsets and related devices off during each class. You will not text during class. If you bring a notebook computer for taking notes, the only page I expect to see up on your screen is your word processing. No surfing during class. If for some urgent personal reason you need to leave your cell phone on for an expected call, talk to me about this at the beginning of class. If you do not behave in accord with my expectations on this matter it will detract significantly from class goals, and will be interpreted as disruptive class behavior given those goals. I will proceed accordingly.

Except for the first week,  when I am blabbing at you, and the midterm week,  you are reading a book a week.

To help get you oriented to each reading:

It goes almost without saying that what is required of you each week is to read the book, think about the answers to the questions posed, reflect more generally on the work, and be prepared to think and talk about stuff.

Part of being prepared is coming to class with something written - I am going to call randomly on some small number of students each class to get us started, and I hope that you will be able to share some of what you have written.

Although you are not getting graded on the writing you do each week, I am really counting on you doing it. If it turns out that a significant number of students are not coming to class each week with something written on which to base their initial comments, the instructor reserves the right to begin requiring that written work be turned in each week, and to adjust the percentages of the final grade accordingly.


I have made a couple of changes since the last time this course was offered. Those changes were instigated in part by  students comments from the last course. The changes have to do with adding a lot of new readings, and changing the sequence of topics.

First, the changed readings do not mean the works dropped are unimportant in the criminological canon. In fact there are some, like Black and Braithwaite that you really **must** read before you take your exam. So please understand that a lot of important material has been left out.

You will find an extensive listing of suggested readings elsewhere in the syllabus. You do not need to read those this semester, but if you are in the doctoral program you will want to have read those volumes before you take the theory exam.

More detail on the additions.

I have added two new volumes on white collar crime (McLean/Elkind, Weisburd et al.). Students in this course continue to struggle to get excited about the many issues around white collar crime. We'll see if this helps. This is an extraordinarily important area of criminal justice/criminology, despite the lack of research funds for this topic. It may well be more important than the impact of street crime. Yet it remains overlooked.

I have added a volume dealing with the transactional nature of violence (Collins). It is a huge work by one of the eminent micro-sociologists of our time. He has a lot to say about how these situations evolve. Collins' work is part of an important emerging situational theoretical perspective on violence. (See for example: Wikstrom, P.-O. H. (2006). Individuals, settings, and acts of crime: Situational mechanisms and the explanation of crime. In P.-O. H. Wikstrom & R. J. Sampson (Eds.), The Explanation of Crime: Context, Mechanisms, and Development (pp. 61-107). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)

I have added a volume on gangs (Venkatesh). Among current urban ethnographers of crime, he, along with Bourgois and David Simon, are among the best. Gangs were overlooked prior to this addition.

Third, since this department currently has several faculty with strengths in geography of crime/communities and crime/spatial criminology/environmental criminology, I have added three volumes in this area. One addresses offenders perceptions (St. Jean), one addresses ethnicity (Martinez), and one addresses "broken windows" (Taylor).

Because of space constraints I am unable to include Donald Black's "The Behavior of Law" , a key reading in sociolegal theory. I will ask you to read a reader's guide to his theory, and we will discuss this just a bit when we also talk about Garland.

In response to student feedback:

The Weekly Schedule

Each class will be structured, roughly, as follows:
1. 5:00 - 5:10~5:15 Housekeeping then: On the spot.

I will call on a small number of  students -- at random -- and ask each one to read an answer to at least one question, or to read something else they have written for that material. So each week you will be doing some writing. Here are your choices:
    a. Write some answers to at least a couple of the questions posted about the reading, questions that you found interesting
    b. Write down and elaborate on a pressing question or two that comes up for you about the theory
    c. Write about how you think the theory applies to something that has happened recently in the news or in public events.

In other words, every week you are not only going to be completing the reading, you also are going to be doing some writing about each work, and you want to be prepared to report out or discuss what you have written. Writing about the theory is a key step in your processing of that theory. It also helps you get warmed up for the exam writing.

As you think about what to write about each week, I strongly encourage you not to write short bullet answers to the simpler reading questions asking about small details. Write about big stuff.

2. 5:15 - 6:00 Basic Exposition.

This period of the class is devoted solely to theoretical exposition. We will not get side tracked into criticizing the theory, or pointing out its limitations or its inconsistencies. The purpose is simply to describe the major points of the theory - more on what this means in the first class. Again, this will be in the form of discussion.

I will be firm about no criticism during this period. The point during this section is to be sure as many students understand as much as they can about what the theory is saying. At the conclusion you want to have a clear sense of what does the theory say, on what evidential basis, and what key issues in criminological theory does this help us with. I will really need to have your cooperation in observing this boundary between exposition and criticism.

3. 6:00 - 6:15 Break

4. 6:15 - 7:00 Criticism

In this section, we discuss limitations, inconsistencies, illogical properties, and/or potential shortcomings of the theory under discussion. You can throw in your personal criticisms here. At the conclusion you want to have a clear sense of at least a couple of limitations with the theory. These could be limitations in terms of its concepts, its hypotheses, its focus, or its evidentiary basis. Or perhaps something else.

5. 7:00 - 7:30 Thinking, Wrap up  & Look ahead.

Students in the last go-round wanted clear "take away" messages about each theory.

I am in conflict about the idea of offering a "take away" message about each theory. Not only does this sound like a corner carry out, the implication is that nothing that went before in the discussion is of any relevance, all that matters is what the professor thinks.

What I may end up doing is ask each of you to start the reflection process with some in-class writing, and then use these materials as possible points for summarizing thoughts.

I have started a Blackboard (Bb) discussion board forum so that students who have reactions to/questions about the readings and/or discussion can post those. Hopefully each student will contribute at least once, and each student will respond at least once. I am not making that a requirement.

Finally, I will offer for your rumination over the next seven days several meagre morsels about the upcoming theory, by way of introductory comments. Sometimes the exposition may be more extensive. Students in the last go round really wanted more time on theory set up for upcoming readings. I will try to do this in a way that does not give you detail about the upcoming reading, but rather puts that reading in a specific context.

More on  Writing

Even though this is not part of the course grade, I expect you to write a little bit in preparation for each class. What is a little bit? 250 words at least. Preferably 500 words.

Why am I asking you to write a little each week? Because sometimes it is only when we put pen to paper that we know what we think.

Unless things get dire (see comment above) I will not be asking you to turn in what you have written each week. But I will expect you, when called upon to start leading off the discussion, which can happen any time, to have something from which to read.

What will you write on?

What I would prefer would be a thoughtful reaction to some part of the theory you have been reading for that week. You also could write about the confusion you are having about one particular part of the theory.

Try to make your writing a structured piece. This helps you get ready for the exam. Do more than just give me a list or a reaction.

In past years there has been a clear relationship between those doing more thoughtful writing each week, and those getting better grades on the exams.

If you put off thinking seriously about each book until exam time, you are very likely to become toast.

I will not have time to do a detailed review of each of your writings each week. But you can ask me -- twice during the semester -- to give you detailed written feedback on what you have written in a weekly assignment. When you want to request that feedback send me the writing as an email attachment with 406 writing in the subject line. I will share some thoughts.

For those seeking some advice on writing short essays I cannot recommend too strongly Lucille Vaughan Payne's "The Lively Art of Writing"  especially chapters 6 and 7 and if you have the time chapters 2 through 5. The Amazon link is:

but it takes 2 - 4 weeks to ship.

You can link to what I think are some key pages from her book if you go to

Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style" is another essential. You can get the early Strunk version online at:

I strongly recommend you read section: V. WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED

Attendance Expectations
It is vital that you not miss a class unless it is absolutely impossible to attend. If you are going to be unable to attend class for pressing personal or health reasons please give me a voice mail or email beforehand.

For ASC week, we ARE having class. Those students attending ASC are NOT excused from class that week.

What Your Grade is Based On (subject to possible change described above)

40% In-Class First Midterm
40% In-Class Second Midterm
10% Final Short Paper
10% Participation. If you are here every week, and have something to say every week, and come to class with something written every week from which you can speak, you will receive full credit for this portion of the course.

For each in class midterm, you will receive on the day of the exam a series of questions. You will select a small number of them, and you will write on them for 2.5 hours, and then turn in your written work. The exams will ask you general questions which are similar to the questions you will see on the advanced exam. I will give you some "tips" on preparing for these exams. You will be allowed to write either on the computer or in blue books.

The final short paper is an application exercise. You will be applying one of the theories reviewed in this course to one specific movie, selected from a list that will be provided.

The paper will be a short (5 pages or so) an application exercise. You will get more specific directions on the paper late in the semester.  I am not weighting the paper a whole bunch, because I don't want you to worry about it. The purpose of the paper is so you can get experience applying a specific theory to a specific situation.

CLICK HERE to get to the paper assignment



We will discuss in class the nature of academic misconduct, including plagiarism. You are responsible for understanding the different varieties of academic misconduct, and for understanding the Graduate School's policies as described below.  If I encounter solid evidence of academic misconduct I will discuss the matter with you, and then deliver the consequence I deem appropriate. Possible consequences include: failure on the assignment in question (i.e., a 0); assigning a failing grade for the course; or attempting to have you expelled from Temple University. Should you wish to contest a decision I make on academic misconduct, I will inform you of the procedures to follow. The department and the college have fully specified grievance procedures for graduate students. 

For details on college policies click here:

The following materials are from the University's Graduate Bulletin statements on academic honesty [   - go to regulations]

Academic Honesty

Temple University believes strongly in academic honesty and integrity; therefore, any kind of academic dishonesty is prohibited. Essential to intellectual growth is the development of independent thought and of a respect for the thoughts of others. The prohibition against academic dishonesty is intended to foster this independence and respect. Primarily, the two types of academic dishonesty include the following: Plagiarism and Academic Cheating.

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another person’s labor, ideas, words, or assistance. Normally, all work done for courses — papers, examinations, homework exercises, laboratory reports, oral presentations — is expected to be the individual effort of the student presenting the work. There are many forms of plagiarism: repeating another person’s sentence as your own, adopting a particularly apt phrase as your own, paraphrasing someone else’s argument as your own, or even presenting someone else’s line of thinking in the development of a thesis as though it were your own. All these forms of plagiarism are prohibited both by the traditional principles of academic honesty and by the regulations of Temple University. Our education and our research encourage us to explore and use the ideas of others, and as writers we will frequently want to use the ideas and even the words of others. It is perfectly acceptable to do so; but we must never submit someone else’s work as if it were our own, rather we must give appropriate credit to the originator.

Academic Cheating is, generally, the thwarting or breaking of the general rules of academic work or the specific rules of the individual courses. Some examples include: falsifying data; submitting, without the instructor’s approval, work in one course that was done for another; helping others to plagiarize; or cheating from one’s own or another’s work; or actually doing the work of another person.

The penalty for academic dishonesty can vary from a reprimand and receiving a failing grade for a particular assignment, to a failing grade in a course, suspension, or expulsion from the University. The penalty varies with the nature of the offense, the individual instructor, the department, and the school or college.

The following is from the College of Liberal Arts:

For more information about what constitutes Academic Dishonesty or about disciplinary and/or academic grievance procedures refer to the University’s Statement on Academic Honesty and the Student Code of Conduct or contact the Student Assistance Center, 215-204-8531.

Makeup Policy

There will be no makeups for a missed midterm or final exam unless

* you notify me before the missed exam

* and you have a reason for missing the exam that I find valid (e.g., car accident) (I no longer accept excuses like your friend's grandmother dying.)

* and I have something in writing, for my records, verifying the nature of the problem (e.g., the police report on the car accident, the estimate from Joe's Body Shop)

 Late Assignments

There is one out of class assignment. It is due on the date indicated. I reserve the right to lower the grade for assignments that are handed in late. The amount the grade is lowered increases the longer the delay in handing the assignment in. Depending on the assignment, the grade may be lowered 1% to 10% a day.

If you have an excuse for a late assignment I will take this into account only if you notify me beforehand about the problem and I find your excuse for the delay to be a valid one and I have something in writing. Again, a friend's grandfather's death may be questionable.

 Regrading Policy
You have the right to submit any exam or assignment for regrading. If you wish to submit an assignment for regrading proceed as follows:

 Prepare a written statement explaining why the assignment should be regraded. This applies to written assignments, essay exams, and multiple choice exam questions where you think there was more than one correct answer.

 On a cover sheet print your name, SSN, name of the assignment or test, date of the assignment or test, and the date you submitted the assignment for regrading.

Staple the cover sheet to your written rationale and the original assignment.

I will review your request for regrading. I will consult with other faculty if I deem that appropriate. As a result of your request for regrading the grade on your original assignment may stay the same, or it may go up, or it may go down.

Grading Standards for Papers
It is expected that the paper you turn in will be, in addition to interesting, engaging, and original, well edited.  I will take off for mis-spellings and flagrantly poor grammar, and for poor organization. A More detailed grading rubric will follow.

Sequence of Topics And Readings


Date Topic and Readings (readings are to be done BY that week) (Bb) means reading can be found on Blackboard site
9/8 Course introduction. Purpose. Requirements. What is a seminar? Why this approach. How to succeed in this course. How to fail. Crime: alternate views. White collar crime: Alternate views. Enron: Introduction: Can I borrow your 100 cases of wine?
9/15 TOPIC: White collar criminals and the criminogenic elements of the organizational, cultural, economic, and governmental climate.
READING: McLean & Elkind. You may skip the following chapters if you wish: 4, 8, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18
9/22 TOPIC: The Variety of white collar criminals; connections between who
READING:Weisburd et al: pp. 1-99
9/29 TOPIC: Situationist perspective on interpersonal violence
READING: Collins. You may skip the following chapters if you wish: 6, 7, 8. 10, 11
RECOMMENDED: Wikstrom (Bb) on situationist perspective
10/6 TOPIC: Individual differences in delinquent tendencies, and an example of bonding theory
READING: Hirschi [NOTE - you want to be sure you are comfortable reading crosstab tables and multiple regression tables before you start reading this book.]
10/13 TOPIC: Individual differences in criminalistic tendencies: General Theory of Crime
READING: Gottfredson & Hirschi
10/27 TOPIC: Individual differences in offending: The Life Course perspective
READING: Laub & Sampson
11/3 TOPIC: Group processes
READING: Venkatesh
11/10 TOPIC: Offender decision making at the meso-scale
11/17 TOPIC: Meso/Macro-level changes in community crime rates and community structure and the incivilities thesis
READING: Taylor. You may skip the following chapters: 6, 7, 8
11/24 TOPIC: Ethnicity and Crime
READING: Martinez
12/1 TOPIC: Constant and shifting views about causes of crime & Implications for public policy
READING: Garland, student reader's guide to Black's "Behavior of Law"
12/8 TOPIC: Macro - International differences and an example of strain theory
READING: Messner and Rosenfeld
12/15 SECOND IN CLASS EXAM - same time and place as regular class
12/18 Final paper due via turnitin on blackboard (be sure you understand how to do this)

Last day of scheduled classes is 12/10. 12/11 & 12/12 are study days. On 11/25 & 11/26 follow your Th and Fr schedules.

Recommended readings for the future (check back - there may be later additions)

    Each of the volumes listed below, save for the Paternoster and Bachman reader, was an important book at the time it appeared, and for a time afterward. Each is a major work by a major, well known author. Strongly recommended you go to work on this list well before you try the advanced exam. Ones in bold are really really recommended.

Black, D. 1976. The Behavior of law. New York: Academic.

Black, D. (1998). The Social Structure of Right and Wrong (Revised ed.). New York: Elsevier Science / Academic Press.

Bursik, R. J., Jr.; Grasmick, H. 1993. Neighborhoods and crime. Lexington: Lexington Publishers. Chs. 1-3. This is probably the best introduction you are going to get to the human ecology approach to crime and communities, and the social disorganization generally.

Cloward, R. A. and L. E. Ohlin. 1960. Delinquency and opportunity. New York: Free Press. A major restatement of differential association theory into opportunity theory.

Hagan, J. 2003. Justice in the Balkans: Prosecuting War Crimes in the Hague Tribunal (Chicago Series in Law and Society). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Do you think international justice is achievable, and relies on large scale institutions rather than lone crusaders? Read this book.

Hagan, J. and B. McCarthy. 1998. Mean Streets: Youth Crime and Homelessness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Excellent, high quality study of how homeless kids get involved in crime, and who protects them or doesn’t.

Katz, J. 1990. The Seductions of Crime. New York: Basic Books. Jack Katz is considered a strange theorist by some, but this volume is widely read. It looks at what attracts people to crime.

Lane, R. (1986). Roots of Violence in Black Philadelphia 1860-1900. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Lane (see comments below) links violence in African-American areas with the zoning of these communities for vice. Excellent complement to Bursik and Grasmick. Short

Lane, R. (1997). Murder in America: A History. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Roger Lane of Haverford College is the premier historian of crime and criminal justice in the United States. This volume discusses murder and responses to murder from pre-colonial times up to yesterday. There are two major themes here. 1. There are three criminal justice systems (for whites, African-Americans, Native Americans). 2. Criminal involvement or the lack thereof was critically linked to the involvement of specific groups in the schooling in preparation for industrial jobs, and having industrial jobs.  This is the magnum opus of a master.

Merry, S.E. 1999. Colonizing Hawai'i. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chronicles how whites set up the legal system in Hawai’i in the 1800s. Merry, who is by training a cultural anthropologist, is a first class theorist and the model she develops is highly textured and compelling.

Moffitt, T.E., A. Caspi, M. Rutter, and P. A. Silva. 2001. Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour : Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reviews the question: why do some delinquents persist into adulthood, and others desist, and what does gender have to do with all this.

Paternoster, R. and Bachman, R. (eds.) (2001).  Explaining Criminals and Crime:  Essays in Contemporary Criminological Theory.  Los Angeles: Roxbury. This is an undergraduate reader, but the chapters are clear, the volume is short, and the editors have these excellent introductions. In general I hate readers, but this one is short, the writing clear, and editor contributions excellent.

 Petersilia, J. 2002. When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry. Oxford University Press. Re-entry and reintegration is one of the hottest topics today, and this book is going to give you the best overview.

Sampson, R.J. and J. Laub. 1995. Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Before Laub and Sampson, there was Sampson and Laub. Uses the same data source, Glueck and Glueck, and looks at transitions of crime from the early delinquent years into early and mid adulthood.

Simon, D., and Burns, D. (1997). The Corner. New York: Grove Press. Don't see the HBO series. Read the book. The best of the recent spate of urban ethnographies from drug-plagued neighborhoods. Others include books by Bourgois, Venkatesh, Pattillo-Mccoy, and Terry Williams.

Wilcox, P., K.C. Land, and S.A. Hunt. 2003. Criminal circumstance: A Dynamic multicontextual criminal opportunity theory. New York: Aldine deGruyter. A multilevel theory about committing crime, and being a crime victim. Strongly recommended, but only after you have had CJ 605.

Wilson, J. Q., and R. J. Herrnstein. 1985. Crime and human nature. New York: Simon and Shuster. A while back this was the hottest book around about biology and crime. Comprehensive, authoritative, the authors push a perspective that blends learning and biology. Some may find it politically offensive, but it is broad ranging.

Wilson, W. J. 1996. When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York: Knopf. For my money the best work there is connecting urban economic conditions like high unemployment, neighborhood life, family life, and involvement in crime and delinquency. The model is truly multilevel, talking about national and regional dynamics down to the individual household. Discussion at the end about our approach to poverty, and how it contrasts with the European model.

Wright, R. T. and S. Decker. 1997. Armed Robbers in Action: Stick-up and Street Culture. Boston: Northeastern University Press. Let’s go out and talk to some armed robbers and see what they tell us about why they do what they do. More readable than Katz, if you want to look at offender motivation from the offenders’ perspective.

Other Criminology Course Sites and/or author's pages and/or exam sites

Bill Chambliss, Sociology, George Washington University, Sociology of Law, Criminology. I like the way he has listed the major "paradigms" on this syllabus. If you want to learn more about paradigms, read Kuhn.

Bernie Cohen, Ph.D. program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College, graduate theory course. This looks like a pretty typical deviance course, except that is has a bit of stuff thrown in on policing, and a section on conflict type theories.

Duke University, Department of Sociology, advanced theory exam in Crime, Law and Deviance. This is a list of questions you may find helpful. It reflects some of the concerns of Ken Land, an author of a text we are reading.

Cecil Greek at FSU is best known for his monster web page in criminal justice. Here is the link to his syllabus on grad crim theory. Of particular interest on this site, besides all the whizzy graphics, are the link to past theory exams, and you also can see FSU's suggested reading list.

Ryan Spohn: Graduate Criminology at Kansas State University in Sociology. The list of additional suggested readings is massive, so don't be daunted, but you may find it helpful; it is heavily sociologically oriented

Pamela Tontodonato, Justice Studies, Kent State University, Graduate Crim Course. Although this is a reader based course, what is interesting about this syllabus is the set of labels used to organize the topics. It is narrower than what we are doing here because the focus is just on understanding offending. There is no attention to law making or responses to law breaking.

StrongBad's Routine Activities


Following up on Sutherland:

Another (perhaps dated) take on the areas of the field:

The following material is a quote from Reckless, Walter C. (1967). Introduction. In W.C. Reckless (ed). The Crime Problem. New York: Appleton-Century-Croft. Pp. 9-10.

 If, in the interest of realism, we admit that criminology is concerned with the study of criminal and delinquent behavior as well as with its control, prevention, and treatment (in spite of the fact that there are as yet no validated criminologists), one can specify the following major concerns of criminology as perceived by various kinds of specialists who identify with the field in its current pre-autonomous state of development.


 1.       The reporting of law violations, clearance by arrest, criminal identification (including operations of crime laboratories), and the improvement of measures to record crime, arrest criminals, and identify violators.

2.       A comparative study of criminal law in various countries as related to social, economic, and political systems, with appropriate attention to transitions in developing countries and to the system of traditional sanctions in tribal societies.

3.       The specification of demographic characteristics of juvenile and adult offenders at points in the legal process (usually at the point of arrest or at the point of admission to a penal or correctional institution), where it is possible to record

4.       The formulation, testing, and revision of hypotheses or theories which attempt to explain crime and delinquency in general or any particular pattern of offense or criminal activity in particular.

5.       The identification and description of basic components of the behaviors which are legally defined as criminal and delinquent in various countries of the world, leading to classifications which approximate the kinds of classifications natural scientists have made. The same procedure should be followed in regard to orders or systems of criminal behavior such as dacoity in India, smuggling, piracy, traffic in women and girls, traffic in narcotic drugs, rack­eteering in the United States, etc.

6.       The study of recidivism and habitual criminals, and the identification of first offenders, recidivists, hard-core offenders, including offenders with character disorders and mental disturbances who relapse into delinquency and crime.

7.       The study and control of problems of deviancy which have a close connec­tion with crime such as abnormal sex offenders, prostitution, suicide, narcotic drug addiction, chronic alcoholism, addictive gambling, begging, vagabondage.

8.       The study and implementation of law enforcement and the operation of spe­cial laws such as habitual-offender laws and abnormal sex offender laws.

9.       The study of the effectiveness of measures for treatment and rehabilitation of offenders, by penal and correctional institutions, probation, and aftercare service (parole), including the study of impact of detention while awaiting trial or disposition.

10.   The evaluation and operation of programs for the prevention of delinquency and crime.