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Lecture 1

CRM 2301 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Edwin Sutherland, Symbolic Interactionism, Social Hygiene Movement

Course Code
CRM 2301
Vajmeh Tabibi

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- Theory
Explanation of a phenomenon (link between 2 events)
System of interconnected abstractions or ideas that condense and organizes knowledge about a
Unit Theories: emphasizes particular problem, are testable
Metatheories: theories about theories, rarely testable
- Guide our theories
Empirical evidence, intuition, common sense, expert opinion
Must be based on careful/systematic observation, evidence, logic
Must be testable, open to amending if contradictory observations accumulate
- Level of theories
Level of abstraction: scope covered by theory
Macro-theories: explain social structure and its effects. Are broad in their scope (focuses on rate
of crime such as anomie and conflict theories)
Micro-theories: explain how individuals become criminal. Range from purely socio to psycho to
bio (social learning theories)
Bridging theories: focus on social structure and how people become criminal. Best of both
(subcultural theories)
- Kinds of Theory
Classical vs positive: focus on essence of human conditions, laws/rights vs. focus on pathology,
treatment/correction of criminality in individuals and the scientific study of criminality
Structure vs. process: focus on way society is organized and how this influences behaviour vs.
explaining how people become criminals
Consensus vs. conflict: assumption that people in society agree on common values vs.
assumption that disagreement is common and people hold conflicting values
- Social Context + Theory
Social context: world around us, how people think, current events, fads
Intellectual context: personal influence of other researchers and scholars, teachers, family
- Paradigm
Positivist, interpretive, critical
- Positivist approach
Purpose of theory: discover casual law, predict & control
Free will vs determinism: deterministic – human actions are caused by forces external to
individuals that can be identified
- Interpretive approach
Purpose of theory: acquire an in-depth understanding of other people, learn personal
reasons/motives/cultural contexts, appreciate diversity of human experiences
Free will vs determinism: free choice-human agency (capacity to exercise conscious/free choices
- Critical approach
Purpose of theory: study social world in order to transform it. Believes in structural/cultural
inhibiting forces
Free will vs determinism: bounded autonomy (free will is not unlimited, stay within restricted

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- Spiritual explanation of crime
otherworldly powers
social organization: feudalism (eye for an eye)
crime is a private affair
feudal lord instituted methods: god indicates who is innocent and who is guilty
trial by battle (later on trial by ordeal and by 1215 – compurgation where 12 people testify in
your defense)
conflict between absolute good/evil
- Natural explanation of crime
Use of physical/material word to explain a phenomenon
Scientific theories: make statement about the relationship between observable phenomena
In 16th/17th century social scientist study human affairs scientifically
Are falsifiable: assertion of theory is tested against the observed world of facts
How people are changing – crime is changing
- Social Context: 18th century
Industrial revolution
Ended the reign of church and aristocratic feudal structure
New social order: emergence of new middle class – that questions many of the political/church
Emergence of protestant ethic vs. catholic church
Birth of liberal ideology
An era of great thought/expression (painters, musicians, socio, statistics)
Up to this point, few written laws, punishment was arbitrary, cruel, done, in secret. Judges
appointed by the king and uphold his will
- Intellectual Context
Birth of naturalism
Social contract (give up a little, gain a lot – government/elected representative)
Enlightenment human dignity, ethic, responsibility, moral
- Birth of Classical School
Rejected spiritualism and emphasized naturalism
Human: rational beings are free, calculate pleasure and pain and act upon it
Use macro (focus on ineffective justice system) and micro (focus on humans) units of analysis
Society in a state of flux – changing nature (law rewritten to fit society)
Advocate a contract system (birth of social contract)
- Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)
Influenced by Verri brothers
“the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number” – crime & punishment
Utilitarianism: punishment must serve a purpose, be of use
Crime: harm done to society (no longer an individual)
Classification of crimes: some crimes directly destroy society, treason punishment. Some crimes
injures the private security of a citizen, his/her property or honour. Some crimes are disruptive of
the public peace. **anything that does not fit into the classification is not a crime**
The pain received should be a little more than the pain induced (1 punch – 2 in return)
- Origin of punishment and the right to punish
Law as the origin of punishment - not the sovereign state

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Laws are the condition under which independent men united to form a society: laws must be
stated clearly so all can understand the criminal code. Punishment unjust if it exceeds the
necessity of protecting the society
Authority of judges: law is to be made by the legislators elected by society united by social
contract. Judges are responsible to determine whether the action (crime) conforms or does not
conform to the law. Judges interpret the law
- Liberal philosophy (their assumptions)
Human as rational being: weigh the costs and benefits of their behaviour and self-interested
Individuals should give up the right to use force to the state: the law limits an individual’s
freedom and his/her ability to act in his/her self interest
State (Criminal law) should punish those who make rational decisions to transgress the law
(blameworthy) and to take away the transgressor freedom or property
The law must limit when how and why the state can use force
Law: to maximize individual freedom and to protect the individual citizens from the power of the
Based on individual freedom, regulation of our own affairs (not government)
- Punishment
Punishment must make the most lasting impression on the mind and inflict the least torment on
the body
Goal of punishment: deterrence
Opposed to death penalty except for treason
- Critique of Beccaria
Assumed that all crimes are planned
Remembering punishment: individual deterrence (hard to deter drug dealers)
Everyone experiences the pleasure of crime and the pain of punishment the same
Rational being??
- Analytical Framework
Human nature: free will, behaviour guided by hedonism (rationality, reason, calculation)
Social order: based on contract
Definition of crime: crime is breaking the contract
Image of criminal: rational, hedonistic
Causes of crime: human nature, ineffective CJS
Correctional ideology: deterrence
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