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Lecture 1: What is Crime?

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Sam Alvaro

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WHAT IS CRIME? What do criminologists do? Criminiology  Crime as social phenomenon  Process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting to breaking laws  Objective: development of a body of general and verified principles and other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime and treatment  Studies criminal behaviour o Causes, patterns, control of  Uses methds of established social science o Records, experiments, surveys, historical data, content analysis  Interdisciplinary o Sociology, criminal justice, psychology, political sciece, anthropology, economics, natural sciences Subfields  Criminal statistics o Create valid and reliable measures of crime  Sociology of law o History of law, law reform  Theory construction o Predicting criminal behaviour  Criminal behaviour systems o Determining the nature and cause of specific crime patterns  Penology o Correction and control of criminal behaviour Victimology  o Nature and cause of victimization Criminal Justice System  Study involves describing, analyzing and explaining the agencies of justice o Police o Courts o Corrections Some concepts about society  Norms are rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its members o May be either prescriptive (don't) or proscriptive (do) o Two special types of norms that were identified by William Graham Sumner:  Mores (right and wrong)  Folkways (right and rude) o As we internalize norms, we respond critically to out own behaviour through shame or guilt o Social control  Formal: Stat, policing, correctional institutes  Informal: Church, organized religion, universities, family, friends Definitions  Crime: any form of human behaviour that is designated by aw as criminal and subject to penal sanction  Law: a rule with consequences  Rule of law: we accept that laws are rules of society and when transgressed will have repercussions Deviance  Deviant behaviour o Violates social norms o Is subject to social control o Not all crime is deviant  Marijuana use o No all deviance is criminal  Bystander apathy John Hagan's Typology of Deviance and Crime  3 variables:  All help determine the level of deviance of an action  Evaluation of Harm o Very harmful  Ex: sexual abuse of children o Somewhat harmful  Ex: shoplifting o Fairly harmless  Ex: illegal gambling o Harmless  Agreement about the norm o High agreement  Ex: murder o High disagreement  Ex: abortion o Confusion or apathy  Ex: copyright violation  Severity of social response o Severe  Life imprisonment o Moderate  Short jail term, community service
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