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Lecture 1

SOCI-225 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: White-Collar Crime, Sex Traffic, Correctional Service Of Canada


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCI-225
Professor
Hay
Lecture
1

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Criminology: the body of knowledge of crime as a social phenomenon; includes making, breaking and
reacting to laws
-aims to develop a body of principles and knowledge regarding law, crime, and treatment
-most commonly applied to academics who study crime and the justice system; a scientific approach
3 reasons for studying crime: 1) intrinsically worthwhile to learn more about our social lives including
criminal behaviour and societal responses 2) before we can reduce crime we need to understand it
3) crime affects all of us, directly or indirectly
-america has higher rates of violent crime and far harsher justice system than Canada, which highlights a
difference in values
-differences in sociostatus: Tremblay found that boys who aggressive behaviour had’t delied y age
16 were more likely to be children of young mothers with low education; Quebec has used this
information to develop support programs for young mothers hoping to see a reduction in crime
Crime and the media: the biggest source of information on crime; often an inaccurate construction
-we hear more about violent crime even though property crime is far more prevalent (violent crime only
about 7%)
-white collar and political crimes are rarely discussed; property crime often goes unreported
-role of tv crime shows: hassled many defendants and jurors to expect definitive forensic evidence like
on tv, often not the case; called the CSI effect
-edia akes profit with stories that are iterestig: oflit of iterest if it leeds, it leads: we are
fascinated by sensationalized and gory stories
-some media outlets may have ideological or political agendas: ie they want to see harsher penalties for
crime; support a public that fears being victimized by a crime
1)Canadians greatly overestimate the amount of violent crime and fear victimization
2) media presents distorted stereotypes about offenders; violent crime rarely committed by strangers to
the victim
3) our public fear influences government policy rather than actual crime trendscrime rates are
declining, but media and interest groups has created stricter laws (ie on firearms and youth justice)
4)violent tv may play a role in crime; however it is a bidirectional arrow (ie kids who are interested in
violence tend to watch violent tv and vice versa); example: the teen who killed his parents believing they
were part of the mind control (matrix case study). Most likely, violent tv has the greatest impact on
those who are predisposed to violence.
5) media coverageie more likely to hear about a child missing from a middle class family than to hear
about a missing sex traffic worker
Criminology as a discipline:
1. Defining crime and criminals: not all social harms are criminal (ie poverty) but not all criminal
acts are harmful; and who counts as a criminalthe person who was acquitted? Never got
caught? Only those charged? Etc
2. Origins and role of law:
3. Social distribution of crime
4. Causation of crime: why do some people commit crimes ad others do’t?
5. Patterns of crime: criminal acts are divided into categories; who is most likely to be offender and
victim in each category?
6. Societal reaction to crime: different societies handle criminal behaviour inn different ways;
federal gvmt deals with criminal acts and procedure and is the only body that can amend or pass
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