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Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice

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20 Criminology Research Paper Topics on Criminal Behavior

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Sample Research Paper: The Validity of Self-Control Theory of Crime

Qualitative observations are recorded by researchers as verbal statements that describe particular processes and outcomes, whereas quantitative observations consist of pieces of information recorded in numerical form. Many investigators use both approaches in a single study, however, because findings from each serve as a check on the other. Ethnography is used to refer to a qualitative study of a social group or sub culture in which a researcher compiles a detailed description of processes and outcomes related to the phenomenon of interest.

An example of ethnography would be a study of prison inmate social systems and adaptation to incarceration in a particular prison such as the classic studies conducted by Clemmer, Sykes, Carroll, Jacobs, and Irwin. A penologist might make observations about the types of inmates that exist in that prison and how they interact with each other in order to understand, for example, why some inmates adapt to incarceration more easily than others.

This information could then be used to create a general theory of inmate behavior that extends beyond the specific prison to all similar inmate populations.

In contrast to qualitative research, a quantitative study involves gathering information and attaching numerical values to each piece. Some types of information already have numbers attached to them e. When a researcher attaches his or her own numerical values, these values are determined by the researcher and must be defined for someone who is trying to understand the study. These scales or variables are then analyzed with statistics in order to make sense of the information for subsequent interpretation.

Statistics, therefore, are also pieces of information, the difference being that the statistical information is a more general summary of the information gathered by a researcher.

Numbers are assigned to pieces of information only when a researcher intends to apply statistics in order to produce new information that cannot be obtained through verbiage. Even then, however, the application is usually limited to reducing the number of possible orders rather than pinpointing the exact causal model. The research design of such a quantitative study always falls into one of three broad types: These groupings reflect differences in methodological rigor, or the ability of a study to establish the causal order of events which is relatively rare in criminological and criminal justice research.

The specific steps involved in this application of quantitative research include the following:. The growing popularity of quantitative research has been met with resistance on the part of some qualitative researchers. Some individuals believe that the inability to numerically measure and evaluate many of the key concepts and processes that are critical to the field will produce misleading information regarding the validity of these ideas.

Cohen tied anomie theory with Freud 's reaction formation idea, suggesting that delinquency among lower class youths is a reaction against the social norms of the middle class. Criminal acts may result when youths conform to norms of the deviant subculture. Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin suggested that delinquency can result from a differential opportunity for lower class youth.

British subcultural theorists focused more heavily on the issue of class, where some criminal activities were seen as "imaginary solutions" to the problem of belonging to a subordinate class. A further study by the Chicago school looked at gangs and the influence of the interaction of gang leaders under the observation of adults. Sociologists such as Raymond D. Gastil have explored the impact of a Southern culture of honor on violent crime rates.

Another approach is made by the social bond or social control theory. Instead of looking for factors that make people become criminal, these theories try to explain why people do not become criminal. Travis Hirschi identified four main characteristics: On the other hand, if these factors are not present, a person is more likely to become a criminal.

Hirschi expanded on this theory with the idea that a person with low self control is more likely to become criminal. As opposed to most criminology theories these do not look at why people commit crime but rather why they do not commit crime [27].

Someone wants a big yacht but does not have the means to buy one. If the person cannot exert self-control, s he might try to get the yacht or the means for it in an illegal way, whereas someone with high self-control will more likely either wait or deny themselves of what want or seek an intelligent intermediate solution, such as joining a yacht club to use a yacht by group consolidation of resources without violating social norms.

Social bonds, through peers , parents, and others can have a countering effect on one's low self-control. For families of low socio-economic status, a factor that distinguishes families with delinquent children from those who are not delinquent is the control exerted by parents or chaperonage.

Symbolic interactionism draws on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and George Herbert Mead , as well as subcultural theory and conflict theory. The powerful groups had the ability to become the "significant other" in the less powerful groups' processes of generating meaning.

The former could to some extent impose their meanings on the latter; therefore they were able to "label" minor delinquent youngsters as criminal. These youngsters would often take on board the label, indulge in crime more readily, and become actors in the "self-fulfilling prophecy" of the powerful groups.

Later developments in this set of theories were by Howard Becker and Edwin Lemert, in the midth century. Labelling theory refers to an individual who is labelled in a particular way and who was studied in great detail by Howard Becker. It is said that when someone is given the label of a criminal they may reject or accept it and continue to commit crime. Even those who initially reject the label can eventually accept it as the label becomes more well known particularly among their peers.

This stigma can become even more profound when the labels are about deviancy, and it is thought that this stigmatization can lead to deviancy amplification.

Klein [32] conducted a test which showed that labelling theory affected some youth offenders but not others. At the other side of the spectrum, criminologist Lonnie Athens developed a theory about how a process of brutalization by parents or peers that usually occurs in childhood results in violent crimes in adulthood. Richard Rhodes ' Why They Kill describes Athens' observations about domestic and societal violence in the criminals' backgrounds. Both Athens and Rhodes reject the genetic inheritance theories.

Rational choice theory is based on the utilitarian , classical school philosophies of Cesare Beccaria , which were popularized by Jeremy Bentham. They argued that punishment, if certain, swift, and proportionate to the crime, was a deterrent for crime, with risks outweighing possible benefits to the offender. In Dei delitti e delle pene On Crimes and Punishments, — , Beccaria advocated a rational penology.

Beccaria conceived of punishment as the necessary application of the law for a crime; thus, the judge was simply to conform his sentence to the law. Beccaria also distinguished between crime and sin , and advocated against the death penalty, as well as torture and inhumane treatments as he did not consider them as rational deterrents.

This philosophy was replaced by the Positivist and Chicago Schools and was not revived until the s with the writings of James Q. Gary Becker, for example, acknowledged that many people operate under a high moral and ethical constraint but considered that criminals rationally see that the benefits of their crime outweigh the cost such as the probability of apprehension, conviction, punishment, as well as their current set of opportunities.

From the public policy perspective, since the cost of increasing the fine is marginal to that of the cost of increasing surveillance , one can conclude that the best policy is to maximize the fine and minimize surveillance.

With this perspective, crime prevention or reduction measures can be devised that increase effort required to commit the crime, such as target hardening. One of the main differences between this theory and Jeremy Bentham's rational choice theory, which had been abandoned in criminology, is that if Bentham considered it possible to completely annihilate crime through the panopticon , Becker's theory acknowledged that a society could not eradicate crime beneath a certain level.

This reveals that the goals of utilitarianism and classical liberalism have to be tempered and reduced to more modest proposals to be practically applicable. Such rational choice theories, linked to neoliberalism , have been at the basics of crime prevention through environmental design and underpin the Market Reduction Approach to theft [38] by Mike Sutton , which is a systematic toolkit for those seeking to focus attention on "crime facilitators" by tackling the markets for stolen goods [39] that provide motivation for thieves to supply them by theft.

Routine activity theory , developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence Cohen, draws upon control theories and explains crime in terms of crime opportunities that occur in everyday life.

Biosocial criminology is an interdisciplinary field that aims to explain crime and antisocial behavior by exploring both biological factors and environmental factors.

While contemporary criminology has been dominated by sociological theories, biosocial criminology also recognizes the potential contributions of fields such as genetics , neuropsychology , and evolutionary psychology. Aggressive behavior has been associated with abnormalities in three principal regulatory systems in the body serotonin systems , catecholamine systems , and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Abnormalities in these systems also are known to be induced by stress , either severe, acute stress or chronic low-grade stress [45].

The group was restricted to academics and consisted of members. Thus, they decided to pursue a new Marxist criminological approach. According to the Marxist perspective on crime, "defiance is normal - the sense that men are now consciously involved…in assuring their human diversity. Convict criminology is a school of thought in the realm of criminology. Convict criminologists have been directly affected by the Criminal Justice System, oftentimes having spent years inside the prison system.

Researchers in the field of convict criminology such as Dr. John Irwin and Dr. Stephan Richards argue that traditional criminology can better be understood by those who lived in the walls of the prison industrial complex. Leyva argues that prisonization oftentimes begins before prison, in the home, community, and schools. The goals of this field of study are as follows:. The value of pursuing criminology from a queer theorist perspective is contested; some believe that it is not worth researching and not relevant to the field as a whole, and as a result is a subject that lacks a wide berth of research available.

Both the Positivist and Classical Schools take a consensus view of crime — that a crime is an act that violates the basic values and beliefs of society.

Those values and beliefs are manifested as laws that society agrees upon. However, there are two types of laws:. Therefore, definitions of crimes will vary from place to place, in accordance to the cultural norms and mores , but may be broadly classified as blue-collar crime , corporate crime , organized crime , political crime , public order crime , state crime , state-corporate crime , and white-collar crime.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Criminology journal. For the Raekwon song, see Criminology song. The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Rational choice theory criminology. Index of criminology articles. Sociology portal Criminal justice portal. Sociological Theory and Criminological Research: Views from Europe and the United States.

On Crimes and Punishments, and Other Writings. Translated by Richard Davies. Northamptonshire UK , 5 June Archived from the original on 27 December Retrieved 26 December Readings in History and Theory.

Theories, Patterns, and Typologies 12 ed. Cengage Learning published The work of Lombroso and his contemproraries is regarded today as a historical curiosity, not scientific fact. Strict biological determinism is no longer taken seriously later in his career even Lombroso recognized that not all criminals were biological throwbacks. Early biological determinism has been discredited because it is methodologically flawed: American Journal of Sociology. The Effect of Education on Crime: Crime, Consumerism and the Urban Experience.

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 3rd edition. London Labour and the London Poor". Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science. Archived from the original on 15 May A Symbolic Interactionist Approach. Archived from the original PDF on 20 October Retrieved 3 November

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CCJS faculty have been among the leaders in the discipline when it comes to utilizing cutting edge research designs, statistical methods and data analysis to investigate key issues in . Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in both the behavioral and social sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, biologists, social anthropologists, as well as scholars of law. The term criminology was coined in by Italian law professor Raffaele Garofalo as criminologia.

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The Center for Research in Criminology conducts and promotes scholarly research in criminology and criminal justice. A criminological research question is a question about some aspect of crime or crimi- nals that you seek to answer through the collection and analysis of firsthand, verifiable, empirical data.