CJ 8106/406  Criminological Theories

Fall 2014

Memos & Handouts

Course Home


You will be able to get links to handouts, memos, and such, sorted by date, from this page


Memo describing your evaluation of the videoconference last week: CLICK HERE


RE: Your responses to the Sutherland reading.

1. Folks generally found Sutherland readable and worthwhile. One concern that folks had was that it was "outdated in the sense that technology and social stratification have changed dramatically over the last 80 years." Another one of you said "If anyone repeats his methods with more modern data, the book would likely be more relatable." There were a few other comments along these lines.

Yes, you all are absolutely right in one sense. Our economy is different now than it was 80 years ago. I appreciate your frank sharing of your reactions.

But whether that has changed the underlying dynamics is an empirical question. In other words, more important than the technology and society changes is the question: is the theoretical frame outdated?

I have not paired this reading with a "modern" case study just because that would have ramped up your reading load a ton for the week. Those are out there, and I have cited several of them in the takeaway memo: McLean, McLean and Nocera, Abolafia, and so on. I have included several references to works in environmental crimes. One of our recent doctorates studied stock fraud and published a book based on his dissertation (

I strongly suggest that those of you in the doctoral program between now and taking the exam read about some of these more modern WCCs and think about whether Sutherland's dynamics apply or not. In other words, to see if you understand Sutherland's concepts and postulated dynamics, see if you can map it onto a modern case study. The easiest one would be Enron. And ask yourself the key question - is Sutherland's theoretical frame outdated? Aand if so in what ways? And if not, then explain how it maps on to the more modern case.

There is a second perhaps more important point at issue here. Sometimes it is important to read the originals if their ideas are still some of the best around for a topic. As Bob Bursik (2009: 6) pointed out, there is a newness fetish in criminology and this is problematic:

many of us have a"newness fetish," which is driven by a belief that criminology has generated bodies of theory and research of steadily increasing quality and creativity over time. This makes it safe to ignore earlier efforts ... unless we simply have an interest in our discipline's history. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.

I once opened an article with a quote that showed how all the key theoretical kernels in numerous different popular delinquency theories traced back to what Henry Mayhew wrote in 1851.

I have just finished spending the last six years working on a community criminology textand one of my conclusions is that in that part of ourfield, because many current scholars does not read the old stuff, is getting way too excited about finding things we have known since the 1920s.

If the field is going to advance it is because we are going to stand on the shoulders of the men and women who have researched and thought about these things beforehand.



Bursik, R. J. J. (2009). The Dead Sea Scrolls and criminological knowledge: 2008 presidential address to the American Society of Criminology. Criminology, 47(1), 5-16.

Taylor, R. B. (2015). Community Criminology. New York: New York University Press.

Taylor, R. B., Harris, P. W., Jones, P. R., Weiland, D., Garcia, R. M., & McCord, E. S. (2009). Short-term changes in adult arrest rates influence later short-term changes in serious male delinquency prevalence: A Time-dependent relationship. Criminology, 47(3), 201-241

Wang, Ke (2010), Securities Fraud, 1996-2001: Incentive Pay, Governance, and Class Action Lawsuits. LFB Scholarly