The Sociology of Crime | This course takes into consideration all variables concerning the perpetration of crime on an individual and social level. In order to achieve this objective, lessons are devoted to the in-depth examination of different basic perspectives to understand criminal behavior. The main premise of the course is that not all potential variables aimed at explaining criminal behavior play the same role. In this regard, from situation to situation (i.e., individual, familial, peer and borough levels), certain factors prevail over others to affect people’s behavior according to specific circumstances. Consequently, this study focuses on personality factors combined with the variables of the social context.  More specifically, the course is divided into two parts. The first part, theoretical in scope, examines the Classical School, the so-called Positive School of Cesare Lombroso, the Chicago School, Edwin Sutherland’s theory of differential associations, the anomie theory, subculture theory, and conflict theory, to move on to recent developments such as labeling and rational choice theories. The second part is based on case studies in order to better understand and apply the theoretical perspectives explained during the first part of the course. The case studies that are illustrated are based on personal research on juvenile gangs and organized crime.  Students will acquire new frameworks and tools to interpret criminal behavior. In addition, students will become familiar with different perspectives on criminal behavior as well as etiology and social risk factors.

By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of key concepts and propositions of sociological models of criminal behavior.
  2. The capacity to identify the different perspectives on criminal behavior that underlie the theoretical development and research of the discipline.
  3. Familiarity with research methodologies commonly employed in the field of sociology of deviance, as well as a capacity to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. The ability to examine critically specific criminal phenomena and apply sociological models of criminality to case studies.
  5. A range of presentation skills.
  6. Classes and lectures will be held in English.

The method used in this class includes lectures, individual and group presentations of papers, group and individual in-class and out-of-class activities, and class discussions. In accordance with the principles of an interactive course, students will share their opinions and insights.

In class discussions and on assignments and exams, students will be asked to describe and discuss the key sociological concepts of criminal behavior. Students will be asked to identify social, family, and psychological risk factors that lead to delinquency and crime. Students will be asked to describe various research methods as well as their strengths and limitations in coursework and exams. Students will be asked to communicate their ideas to peers and their professor through oral and written presentations.

Research paper – article style: Students will write a research paper on a case of their choice and will present the findings in class. The research paper should be a minimum of 4 pages in length and will comprise 15% of the student’s final grade.

Group presentation and final paper. In groups, you will prepare a 40-minute presentation (30-minute PowerPoint presentation, 10 minutes for class questions) that closely examines a case study of criminal behavior (on an individual, group or social level). The group should identify a case study that provides information about the background of the specific situation, as the group will be applying the sociological models discussed in class. The process of choosing the case should be a team effort. Group members can initially research individually for the case; however, the final decision-making process needs to be a team effort. The sources for the presentation need to be primarily from peer-reviewed journals (e.g., American Journal of Sociology; American Sociological Review). Each member of the group will earn a separate grade for the presentation, which will be based on his/her individual contributions to the overall group presentation. The presentation will be graded according to content, organization, and delivery.

Final paper: One week after you give your presentation, your final paper (2000 words, double-spaced, Times, 12 font) will be due. The paper needs to be written following the model of American/English sociological scientific journals, including references. The paper will be graded according to content and organization, and will comprise 25% of the student’s final grade.

Papers must be handed in at the beginning of class or before the due date as discussed in class. Papers handed in late for whatever reason will be lowered by one letter grade.

Plan for the unexpected – Plan to print your paper out early as you may not be able to print out your paper as planned.