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Lecture 1

SOC205H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Demonology

Course Code
Paula Maurutto

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Friday, January 10, 2014
Lecture 1 – Chapter 1
The Context and Consequences of Theory
Theories are drawn from some form of sustained research
Opinions are different because they are not built on research
Crime is a complex phenomenon and is a difficult topic to systematically study
oCrime commentary often exaggerates and sensationalizes the problem
Crime occurs for many different reasons, there are different types of crimes and
the reasons people engage in crime are quite diverse
Fundamental problem with early theories believe there is one solution to crime
Criminological Theories
Theories reflect the social, economic, political and historical contexts in which
they emerge
Changes rapidly over time
Crime is historically contingent, crime today might not be crime tomorrow as
laws change radically
Ex. In the past it was a crime to commit adultery but now it is accepted
Seen a radical shift from 1960s to now about how we frame gay and lesbian
Crime is defined by the law
Radical shift in prostitution and abortion laws
Historical Explanations of Crime
Spiritual Explanations
Classical School of Criminology
oCesara Beccaria (1738-1794)
oJeremy Bentham
Early Theories
Early theories of crime tended to locate the cause of crime within individuals – in
their souls, their wills, or their body constitutions
Spiritual Explanations
Stressed the conflict between absolute good and absolute evil; people who
committed crimes were thought to be possessed by evil spirits (referred to as
sinful demons)
“Devil made me do it” explanations
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