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Criminology Preparations

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Created: June 22, 2003
Latest Update: September 18, 2003

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Site Teaching Modules CRMJ/SOCA 233 Criminology: Week 5
Positivist and Psychological Explanations
You will be held accountable for purposes of grading for the readings and exercises listed here. There will be no "testing." That means that you will not have to live in anxious anticipation of what we will ask and how much you will have to know. Instead, we will provide weekly discussion questions, lectures, essays, and concepts we feel that you should know as a result of having taken this course. You will assure us of that learning and receive your grade for the questions and concepts about which you choose to write and talk with us. In addition, you will find detailed explanations and examples on our grading policies in the first week's reading.

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Week 5: Week of September 28, 2003

  • Topic:Positivist and Psychological Explanations

  • Preparatory Readings:
    • Williams and McShane.Criminology Theory chapters by Lombroso and Akers
    • Pollock. Criminal Women. ch. 6 and 8
    • optional Adler. Criminology , ch. 4

  • Lecture: in class

  • Concepts:

    • born criminal, insane criminal, criminaloid
    • homo delinquen
    • endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph
    • XYY controversy
    • biocriminology, sociobiology
    • neurosis, psychosis, schizophrenia
    • behavior theory
    • social learning theory

  • Discussion Questions:

    1. How did the Classical School and the Positivist School differ? In other words, how did Lombroso's work and theory differ from the theorists who came before? Why.

    2. What is Pollock's critique of the Classical School, the Positivist School and the psychological explanations? Why. Do you agree with her critique of these three theories? Why.

    3. In a study of homicide, how would a classical theorist, positivist theorist, and a psychologist explain the causes and "cures"?Why. Which perspective do you agree with the most? Why.

  • Past Lectures and Related Links:

      Continuation of the Bell Curve Arguments

      Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

  • Some Recommended Activities:

    1. Show and Tell: Bring in a current event as an example of a modern-day application of the positivist and/or psychological explanations of crime.

    2. Explore one of these topics:
      --- delinquent behavior and body types
      --- XYY controversy
      --- the "twinkie" defense
      --- biocriminology
      --- is there a "crime gene"?
      --- the insanity defense
      --- is there a connection between media and violence?
      --- how prevalent are "copy cat" crimes?

    3. Recommended Readings

      Richard Herrnstein and James Q. Wilson Crime and Human Nature.

      Richard Herrnstein and Murray. The Bell Curve.




    Now, check the Minimum Requirements for Criminology, Weeks 3, 4, and 5.



    Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2003.
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