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CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright
Study Guide

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What is Criminology?
Criminology = the scientific study of crime
Crime = an act punishable by law
The discipline of criminology is relatively
Systematic study of crime did not begin
Criminology in Canada
Discipline of criminology did not become established in Canada until the mid-20th
First criminology program in Canada appeared in 1951 at UBC in the department
of social sciences
School of Criminology created at Montreal in 1963
Centre of Criminology created at UofT in 1963
Department of Criminology established at Uni of Ottawa in 1967
School of Criminology established SFU in 1973
The Demographic Shift
Beginning in 1960s, population of young males in Canada, US and UK increased
dramatically (caused by the baby boom following WWII)
15-24 the most crime-prone years— young men known to commit
disproportionate amount of crime
Number of women in workforce doubled in workforce doubled during the 1960s
and 1970s due to advent of birth control pill, greater acceptance of divorce
Rising Crime Rates
1960s and 1970s also a time of great social and political upheaval
Increase in alcohol consumption, increase in divorce rates, increase in use of
mind-altering drugs
Dramatic increase in crime rate, throughout 1960s, 1970s and 1980s
Contributed to greater interest in discipline of criminology
Criminology as an Interdisciplinary Social Science
Criminology tends to be interdisciplinary in nature
Draws on sociology, psychology, biology, law, geography, economics
Includes the study of law; the history of law; the criminalisation process; crime
prevention and crime control; policing, corrections and penology; and other
studies related to the “criminal justice system”
Sociological explanations— e.g. anomie-strain theory, social control theory,
labeling theory—have dominated criminology

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However, earlier 19th century explanations—e.g., the Positivist School and
“criminal man”-- were biological or psychological
Criminologists study the “criminalization” process— how certain behaviors
become criminalized over time, while others become decriminalized (e.g.
abortion was illegal in Canada, but is now legal?
Also study the “stigmatization” process— how offenders come to be “demonized”
and “labeled”
Also examine “net-widening”— how new laws and new methods of “community”
supervision (e.g. electronic monitoring) may increase the size of the population
under “social control”
The media: Shaping our understanding of crime
Understanding Crime in Canada: An Introduction to Criminology
The Fascination with Crime
Crime is popular topic for newspapers, TV shows, books and movies
There is little relationship between crime news and actual amount of crime.
Media focus primarily on violent crimes, even though such crimes form only small
part of all criminal activity
Appears as though police solve more crimes and arrest more criminals than they
do in reality
The Appeal of Crime Stories
Crime-related stories are often more dramatic and lurid.

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Deal with moral questions of good vs. evil
Criminals appear in stories as insane, or as dangerous psychopaths.
Stories happen in short time span— between newscasts or newspaper editions
Easy for public to understand (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011)
Crime Comics
In 1940s, Canadian government passed a law making it illegal “to make print,
publish, distribute or sell a crime comic”
Section 163 of Criminal Code is still in effect today
Back then, it was believed that crime “comics would increase psychopathology
among young people” (Steeves and Milford, 2014
Rock & Roll
Influence of The Media
The average child spends 5
+ hours per day, watching TV, movies, playing video games
Two-thirds of what they watch involve violence
By age 18, average child will have seen 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders
Media Effects
Social scientists began to study relationship between crime and media in 1960s-
Early studies of “media effects” suggested that children who watched a lot of
violence on TV were more likely engage in violence in real life
Some social scientists have rejected this approach this approach, whereas
others are still interested, claiming that violent video games are related
behavioral problems, and that certain youth who are predisposed to violence may
copy ideas that they see in the media
Copycat Crimes
Small but growing body of evidence that some offenders do get ideas for real-life
crimes from movies, television, and news sources
2002 study of serious (violent) juvenile offenders incarcerated in adult
correctional facility in Florida found that one third had considered possibility of
committing copycat crime and one fourth had attempted a copycat crime.
Cultural Criminology
Cultural criminology is sub-discipline of criminology that explored “links between
culture, crime and crime control in contemporary life”
Explores cultural meaning of media violence and emphasizes significance of
“active audiences”
“Active audiences” means that people do not consume media messages
passively; rather, “the meaning of messages in negotiated or constructed”
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