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Crim 300W sept 10.docx

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Simon Fraser University
Charmaine Perkins

Crim 300W Notes September 10 Lecture Notes What is Criminology (Book) -criminology: the scientific study of crime -uses the scientific method -based on empirical research What is Crime? (Book) -legalistic approach: acts prohibited by legal codes in a given jurisdiction -mala in se: evil in itself -mala prohibita: evil because prohibited -deviant acts move in and out of legality all the time What is Theory? (Book) -a set of concepts linked together by a series of statements to explain why an event or phenomenon occurs -theories provide explanations for why things happen -two important principles -theories can be erroneous -accurate predictions can be made -all scientific theories can be improved -improvement comes from observation and empirical testing What is Theory? -”theorizing is a creative enterprise. Developing a theory often depends on going beyond the available evidence into new and uncharted territory. If theory growth were to depend entirely on increasing observational support, no new ideas or theories would be possible” -Wagner, 1984, p.19 -distinction between met theory and theory: -discussion about theory, how it should be studied, linkages=orienting strategies -orienting strategies: provide conceptual schemes and tell us what we should be studying, how we are to use them (prescriptive) -provide a framework in research can be performed -help us explain social phenomenon What is theory -lack of consensus on what is theory in crim -informal vs. formal definitions -working definition: model of understanding or explanation about how the world works -set of interrelated propositions that seek to explain specific phenomenon Another Approach -Robinson (2004) chooses the term “perspective” “a way of looking at the world, a way of thinking about problems” -how criminologists and criminal justice scholars define the problem -methods used to study the problem -how evidence is interpreted -resulting policies from studies/research Theory: another definition -unit theories: set of concepts and theoretical assertions related to each other in explaining specific phenomenon -functions of theory: -description -explanation -prediction -control and influence policy/practice Classification of theories -paradigm: “distinctive theoretical models or perspectives” -opposing assumptions of human behaviour -4 major paradigms -classical school -free will/rational choices -cost benefit analysis -positive school -people are passive subjects of determinism -IQ, environment, economics, all factors -conflict/critical perspective -law is used as a tool to restrain those without power -everything is derived from power -integrated theoretical models -an attempt to combine the best or most relevant points from various theories to explain criminality Additional ways to classify criminological theories -micro-level analysis: focus on individual -macro-level analysis: focus on group -consensual perspective: everyone agrees that the act is immoral -conflict perspective: different groups disagree about the fairness of the law -legalistic framework: agreement on what constitutes crime: Consensus vs. conflict emphasis on power imbalances, marginalization -assumptions regarding human behaviour -what are you born predisposed too? Good, greedy, blank slate? Characteristics of good theories -parsimony: able to explain it in the simplest way possible -scope: the larger the scope the better the theory -logical consistency: the extent a theory makes sense in terms of its own concepts -testability: extent in which it can be put through scientific testing -empirical validity: extent of support from scientific research -policy implication: can it create realistic and useful guidance Criteria for determining causality -temporal ordering -the predictor variable must come before the explanatory variable -correlation -the extent to which the predictor variable is associated with a change in the explanatory variable -spuriousness -there is no third factor causing the change in the explanatory variable -note: Causality=much more difficult o determine: crime is a complex phenomenon -correlations, multiple factors, relationships What we theorize about in Crim -criminality (behaviour): why people commit/do not commit crime -crime (the act itself) -response (CJS response) -theories also inform us what to focus on and what to ignore Theory is a dynamic process -”All scholars stand on the shoulders of other schola
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