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Midterm

Midterm 1


Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRM 2301
Professor
Christine Gervais
Study Guide
Midterm

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Criminological Theories I – Midterm 1
Chapter 1: Introduction to Theory
-Theory meets two criteria: (1) the use of objective evidence and systematic observation (2) a
rational explanation of that evidence
-Theories about the effect of social structure on crime rates are abstract
-Theories allow us to develop and test potential solutions to problems we encounter in life
-Theories explain how two or more events are related to each other and how the conditions
under which the relationship takes place
-Systematic observation: observation made through the use of certain rules
-A good theory: one that can be tested and that best fits the evidence of research
- Criteria for the utility of a theory: logical soundness (means that the theory does not propose
illogical relationships, and that it is internally consistent), the ability to make sense out of several
conflicting positions (means that evidence seems to indicate that there are two or more
opposing facts, a theory that can reconcile those facts is a good one and is better than having
different theories to account for each fact), and sensitizing ability (refers to focusing people’s
attention on a new, or even forgotten, direction of inquiry, or perhaps suggesting a different way
of looking at and interpreting a fact they already know)
-Popularity is an indicator of a good theory
*Kinds of theories:
-unit theories: emphasize a particular problem and make testable assertions of that
problem
-metatheories: rarely testable and best viewed as ways of looking and interpreting reality
(“theories about theories”)
-macrotheories: broad in their scope, and explain social structure and its effects. They
focus on rates of crime (epidemiology)
-microtheories: a particular way of characterizing society; characterization is then used
to explain how people become criminals (etiology). Focus may be on small specific groups
of people or the individual
-bridging theories: attempt to tell us both how social structure comes about and how
people become criminal; often both epidemiological and etiological
-Most theories use a system of three basic types of theories: biological, psychological, social
*Classification schemes:
-classical: focus on legal statutes, governmental structures, and the rights of humans.
The theory is concerned about the essence of the humans condition
-positivist: focus on pathology in criminal behaviour, on treatment, and on the correction
of criminality within individuals
-structure: focus on the way society is organized and its effect on behaviour, some are
referred to as strain theories
-process: attempt to explain how people become criminal
-consensus: those based on the assumption that there is agreement among people in
society
-conflict: the assumption that disagreement is common and people hold conflicting
values
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*THEORY→RESEARCH→POLICY (linear model with feedback between the research and the
theory)
Chapter 2: The Classical School
-Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, opposed the arbitrary nature of the criminal justice
system of the time. They proposed that both the law and administration of justice should be
based on rationality and human rights
-Major concepts: humans are free-willed, rational beings; utilitarianism (the greatest good for the
greatest number), civil rights and due process of law; rules of evidence and testimony;
determinate sentencing; deterrence
-Social heritage: arose during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, societies becoming
urbanized, rule of the Church threatened, people began to understand the success of hard
work, era of great thought and expression
-Intellectual heritage: the Naturalists, a group of philosophers, believed experience and
observation could determine much about the world, moral/ethics/responsibilities were great
topics, government as a social contract, emphasis on human dignity stemming from the
Enlightenment
*Perspective of the school:
-hedonism(seek pleasure/minimize pain) used as a theory of human nature and this
helped shape legal structures
-law was to protect the society and the individual, but its main purpose was deterrence
-Bentham: punishment was evil and the only reason for it was deterrence
-two forms of deterrence: specific (for that individual) and general (for potential
offenders)
-three components to deterrence: celerity (the speed in which a punishment is applied),
certainty (making a punishment sure to happen), severity (the amount of pain to be
inflicted)
-all individuals equal before the law
-due process of law (equality, and evidence obtained from facts)
-Bentham divided offenses between private and public wrongs/against the person and
against property
-Bentham created the “felicific calculus” (an elaborate schedule of punishments
designed to take into account a combination of pleasure, pain, and mitigating circumstances)
-Beccaria specifically decried the use of torture in interrogation to elicit confessions, and
supported time limits on case preparation for both sides, and opposed to conviction
awaiting trial
-opposed capital punishment
-crime is a breach of social contract, therefore, a moral offence against society
Chapter 3: The Positivist School
-focus on systematic observation, accumulation of evidence, and objective fact within a
deductive framework
-they reached out to order and explain the world around them
-saw behaviour/human nature as determined by its biological, psychological, and social traits
-focus on criminal behaviour
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-world is of cause and effect
-through the application of science, human existence can be made better
-systematic study of human behaviour can be the remedy of social problems
-abnormal features can be found in comparison with those that are normal
-criminal behaviour is a product of abnormality; among the individual or society
-treatment and reform are the purpose of sentencing , not punishment
-sociological theories are structurally oriented and macrotheoretical, whereas, biological and
psychological are processual and microtheoretical
Theorists:
-Quetelet applied probability theory to produce the “average person”. He also found variations in
crime rates by climate and season, and age and sex differences
-Lombroso pointed out that criminals have multiple physical abnormalities of an “atavist”
(subhuman or primitive) or degenerative nature. These physical inferiorities characterized a
biological throwback called the “born criminal” (traits including: lack of morality, tattoos, absence
of remorse). He also distinguished other types of criminals: the insane criminal, epileptic
criminal, and the occasional criminal.
-Ferri modified the classification scheme of Lombroso’s criminals and stated that crime was
caused by a number of factors including physical, anthropological, and social, psychological,
etc.
-Garofalo believe that civilized people have certain basic sentiments about the values of human
life and property; absence of these sentiments indicates a lack of concern for fellow humans.
Finding a combination of environmental, circumstantial, and organic reasons for criminal
behaviour, he termed such behaviour as psychic or moral “anomaly”, a deficiency of altruistic
sensibility. He believed that the dangerousness of the criminal should shape the criteria of social
crime-fighting policies
Chapter 4: Chicago School
-Human behaviour is developed and changed by the social and physical environment of the
person
-Social environments provide cultural values and definitions that govern behaviour
-Urbanization and industrialization have created communities that have a variety of competing
cultures, thus breaking down older patterns –this breakdown resulted in the impersonalization of
institutions
-Continued disorganization makes the potential for conflict even more likely
-Community is considered to be a major influence on human behaviour (the city is a microcosm
of the human universe)
-Empirical sociology: studies individuals in their social environment
-Life history provided a method of reaching deeply into the cumulative factors and events
shaping the lives of individuals
-Ecological study: technique allowed them to transcend individuality and, through the collection
of social data, gain a sense of the characteristics of large groups of people
-Social heritage: children of immigrants were often embarrassed by their families and drew
away from them, the melting pot of the American dream was a nightmare because there were
too many customs in common at one time, a search for solutions turned the city into a human
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