Class 1: Introduction to Theory
Crime is increasing.
Strangers victimize most people.
Older people are more likely to be victimized. (Actually 18-24)
Poor people are much more likely to commit crime than middle-class people.
Violent crime is more prevalent than property crime.
Violent crime inflicts the most harm on people in society
Different Types of Knowledge:
Direct Experience – something as simple as touching something hot and being burnt,
perhaps we learn that surrounding ourselves with individuals who commit crime
enables us to have a higher chance to commit crime. (Ex. good fish good crops, no
fish no crops.)
Authority – we are to turn to them to receive this wisdom (couple raising a difficult
child goes to a child psychologist etc.) Family counsellor etc. (Ex. telling everyone
why to do this and that they must.)
Higher Power – few have direct contact with God but still believe non the less. Many
explanations come from the supernatural and theological explanation – for some
people. (Ex. receiving the gift from the God’s of harvest.)
Theory & Science – people resist to this type the most, science is a logical system that
basis knowledge on direct systematic information. (Ex. The fish nourished the seed
Scenario: imagine you are a volunteer with a background in biology. You are in Latin
America teaching them to grow more food. You observe the farmers carefully
planting the seeds and carefully placing a dead fish over the seed, when you ask
why, they respond by saying the fish is a gift to the God’s because it has always
brought healthy plants. When in reality you understand that from biology that the
fish acts as a form of fertilizer.
Do We Use Theory In Everyday Life?
Dating someone for 6 months, out of the blue receive a text that they are breaking
up with you. First thing you do is reason. Why did they do it? Are they cheating, are
you not good enough? Are they getting back together with their ex? By doing this
you are theorizing. Studying for an exam, you get a D on the final when you thought
you would have an A, you theorize as to why you received this grade.
Columbine Shooting & Theory
What theories may have caused this?
- Was it the music they listened to?
- Was it bullying?
- Video games?
- Their households and their background?
- Easy access to guns?
- Mental disorder + medication?
Why Do We Have Theories?
THEORY IS . . .
THEORY IS NOT . . .
What Is Theory?
A particular way of looking at something
A systematic and general attempt to explain something
Expresses the relationship between 2 or more phenomenon and the
conditions under which it takes place
Attempts to describe, explain, predict, and ultimately to control some class of
Assumptions in Criminological Theory
Level of study:
Micro or Macro?
Micro: studied on a smaller scale, more individualistic (Why
individuals join gangs)
Macro: studied on a larger scale, more of a group and society.
(How the environment will inhibit or facilitate criminalistics
Basis of society:
Consensus or conflict?
Consensus: everyone in society shares values and shares
interests, they agree what is right and wrong (all the social
institutions are working together for the greater good – school,
church) All groups in society benefit from the criminal justice