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Sociology 12, also known as Criminology, is a base class if majoring/minoring in criminology. This class focuses on the theories behind the laws and ideas that are now put in place within our criminal justice system. This class really gets one thinking about criminology and why we use some of the laws that we do. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be majoring/minoring in neither Crim nor Soc in order to take this class. It’s just required of these majors.

1. The Father of Sociology

This class spends a lot of time talking about those who invented these theories and such. The Father of Sociology, also known as Emile Durkheim, created a theory that he called Social Pathologies and Crime. Basically, it talks about social structure and how the division of labor can affect who we become and interact with. He said that crime is essential to social life and function. He viewed crime as a way to release the tension that people faced. This constructed into his views on suicide and how he believed that social control has a lot to do with those who end up taking their own lives. Dark, albeit, he had really interesting ideas that are still used and considered today.





2. The Father of Criminology

Cesare Lombroso was an incredibly important figure when shaping our laws and criminal justice system. His theory of “atavism” is still viewed today as an important one. Many people believe that humans were “savages.” He believed in the evolution of human beings from apes, so he believed that although we’ve formed into a completely different cultural and structural being, we still had some “animal in us.” He viewed crime as something that we were all capable of committing; that we were born criminals and the only way we could change that would be by not committing criminal acts.



3. Utilitarianism

Jeremy Bentham is the founder of the theory of Utilitarianism. Bentham describes utilitarianism as a right that we all have. It’s our duty to be happy in life, no matter how we obtain that happiness. This theory isn’t used for crime much anymore, but it is used in other forms of sociology. Bentham’s name pops up in many sociology and criminology classes, and even some psychology classes. His theories are still alive and well, although they may not necessarily be meant for crime like before.



4. Differential Association Theory

Differential Association Theory was created by Edwin H. Sutherland. Essentially, he just created the 9 factors that he believed were the reasons that people committed crimes. He proposed many different things, and here are just some: criminal behavior is learned not inherited, a principal factor to learning is the intimate social groups you’re in, etc. There are many different propositions that encompass his theory, and this theory is still being taught today… It must be pretty relevant!



5. Neutralization Theory

The Neutralization Theory talks about how adolescents need to neutralize their guilt before committing a crime. There are 5 rationalizations, or techniques, that claim as to why they can “break the law.” The techniques include Denial of Responsibility, Denial of Injury, Denial of Victim, Condemnation of Condemners, Appeal to Higher Loyalties.



Soc/Crim 12 is a very important class that students say they would retake if required. It’s really interesting to learn why we have certain laws and how exactly they came about. Much of criminology and laws began back in the 18th century, so these theories that are still being talked about today, in the 21st century, are really important to how we live and understand laws today!


Beca Kelly