Tues 4, Thurs 4-5Professor Marian J. Borg

Tues 4, Thurs 4-5Professor Marian J. Borg

Tues 4, Thurs 4-5Professor Marian J. Borg

FAC 0120/CSE E119Office: 3364 Turl / 274-7168

Office Hrs: M 10:30-1:30 & Th 1:00-3:00e-mail:


Fall Semester 2014

Course Description:

This course provides an overview of the field of criminology with particular emphasis on the nature of crime in the United States and the approaches sociologists have used to understand the conditions associated with criminal behavior. During the semester our discussions will focus on three general areas. First, we will review how "crime" in the U.S. is legally defined and then examine the various techniques criminologists use to categorize and track criminal behavior. Next, we will analyze the patterns which these measurement devices reveal about the offenders, victims and the social context in which crime occurs. Finally, we will consider the arguments and evaluate the merits of various sociological theories proposed to explain criminal behavior. Our discussions should help you reach a more accurate and informed understanding of the nature and extent of crime in our society and the social context in which such activity seems most likely to occur.

Course Requirements:

Attendance: I strongly encourage you to attend all class meetings, especially since there is no required textbook for the course. The reading material for the course (all available on-line; more on this below) complements the material we discuss in lecture. Whether or not you attend class, you are responsible for all material and assignments, including any that may be added or altered during the semester.

Academic Integrity: All students registered at the University of Florida have agreed to comply with the following statement: “I understand that the University of Florida expects its students to be honest in all their academic work. I agree to adhere to this commitment to academic honesty and understand that my failure to comply with this commitment may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the University.” In addition, on all work submitted for credit the following pledge in either required or implied: “On my honor I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment.” For additional information on Academic Honesty, please refer to the University of Florida Academic Honesty Guidelines at: http://www.dso.ufl.edu/judicial/procedures/academicguide.html

Exams: There will be 3 mandatory, in-class, multiple choice tests covering material from lecture AND readings. Each test will count 50 points toward your final grade. Test dates are listed on the Course Schedule. Make-up exams will be administered according to UF policy. Unless otherwise decided by me, all make-up exams will be given on the FINAL EXAM DATE for the course.

Written Project: 50 points of your grade will be determined by a book review, the directions for which are attached to the syllabus. Your papers are due in class, Tuesday, December 2. I will not accept projects past this deadline.

Class Participation: I welcome and encourage class participation and discussion. During the semester, we will occasionally have group discussions focusing on particular topics we're covering in the course. Being in class, participating in the discussions, and/or submitting short reaction papers may comprise extra credit points added to your final grade. If you are not here, you cannot participate and therefore cannot receive credit.

Required Reading Material: There is no required TEXTBOOK for the course. All required readings are available on-line through SAKAI and the Library’s electronic course reserve system, ARES. For those who wish to clarify topics covered in lecture, a textbook is also on reserve at Library West. There are no REQUIRED readings in the text.

Please note: This course DOES NOT fulfill Gordon Rule requirements.

Grading Structure:

Please note: Minus grades are an available option that instructors may choose to us. Equivalent grade point conversions are available on the Registrar’s website: http://www.isis.ufl.edu/minusgrades.html .

Grade Percent Points Grade Percent Points

A93-100% 185-200 C 70-75% 139-150

A-90-92% 179-184 C- 68-69% 135-138

B+87-89% 173-178 D+ 66-67% 131-134

B80-86% 159-172 D 60-65% 119-130

B-78-79% 155-158 D- 58-59% 115-118

C+76-77% 151-154 E below 58% 114 or less

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: (http://www.ir.ufl.edu/fac_handbook/syllabi.htm ):

"Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation."


I. The Nature of Criminal Behavior

A. Defining Crime:

1. legal definitions and categories of crime

2. legal defenses to criminal behavior

B. Overview of the Field of Criminology

1. the Enlightenment and the classical school of criminology

2. positivism and the scientific method

3. conflict (critical) criminology

4. neoclassical (conservative) criminology

C. Measuring Crime:

1. Uniform Crime Reports and NIBRS

2. National Crime Survey (Victimization Surveys)

3. Self-Report Surveys

II. Analyzing Patterns of Criminal Behavior

A. Crime as a Social Event:

1. offenders and victims

2. the setting: bystanders, witnesses and the physical environment

B. Categories of Crime:

1. "economic": property; white collar crime; professional crime

2. "moralistic": homicide; aggravated assault; rape

3. "hedonistic": “victimless”; prostitution; drug-related

III. Theories of Criminal Behavior

A. Evaluating Theories:

(scope/parsimony, testability, empirical validity, policy relevance)

B. Social Structural (Macro) Level Perspectives

1. strain theories (anomie)

2. routine activities theory

3. crime as social control/"self-help"

4. conflict and consensus theory

C. Social Process (Micro) Level Perspectives

1. techniques of neutralization

2. life course development

3. social learning theories (differential association)

4. control theories (social bonding)



Wk1August 26-28


Defining CrimeStanko

Wk2Sep 2-4

Legal Defenses to Crime

Wk3Sept 9-11

Overview of CriminologyStark Chambliss

Hochstetler Currie

Wk4Sep 16-18

Measuring Crime: UCR and NIBRS


Wk5Sep 23-25

Measuring continuedMcCleary Martin

**********SEPTEMBER 25, THURSDAY: TEST #1**********

Wk6Sept 30-Oct 2

Measuring Crime: NCS and Self-report surveysXie, et al)

Wk7Oct 7-9

Framework for Analyzing Crime Patterns Mullins and Wright

Economic Crime: patterns Coontz

Wk8Oct 14-16

Economic Crime/explanations: Routine Activities TheoryCopes & Cherbonneau

White Collar Crime (occupational)

Wk9 Oct 21-23

Techniques of NeutralizationDabney Reiman

White Collar Crime (corporate)Clinard Perry & Dawson

Wk10Oct 28-30

White Collar Crime (conclude)

**********OCTOBER 30, THURSDAY: TEST #2**********

Wk11Nov 4-6

Moralistic crime:Pogrebin et al

Definitions, patterns…Martin and Hummer

Wk12Nov 13Kubrin

…and explanationsCopes et al

Wk13Nov 18-20

Theories: focus on social structureMurphy, et al.

Wk14Nov 25

Theories: focus on social processMohamed & Fritsvold

Wk15Dec 2-4

Hedonistic Crime: conflict and consensus theoriesErikson (A) Weisheit


**********DECEMBER 4, THURSDAY: TEST #3*******************

Wk16Dec 9

Wrap up


The final requirement for the course is a review (approximately 8 pages, typed, DOUBLE-SPACED, hard copy only please–i.e., no email attachments!) of one of the following books. The purpose of this writing project is to allow you to 1) learn more about a topic that is particularly interesting to you; 2) apply the knowledge you have acquired in this course to think critically about a piece of sociological research; and 3) communicate your evaluation in writing.

Please think carefully about your book selection, especially in terms of identifying a topic that is interesting to you and that you want to learn more about. In your review you must 1) summarize the book's major points; 2) integrate course material (in particular a theory) into your discussion of the book; and 3) critique the research. Your grade will be based on 1) the depth of your summary and critique; 2) the creativity, insight and depth of understanding you demonstrate in applying course content, theory, and a sociological perspective; 3) the overall presentation of your work (i.e., grammar, punctuation, spelling, appearance, etc). I strongly encourage you to stop by during office hours to discuss your projects.

All papers must be typed, double-spaced.




Select one of the following books. We will talk more about them in class. Our library has at least one copy of most; some can be purchased immediately from local bookstore; any can be ordered on-line (usually cheapest option).

When Battered Women Kill, Angela Browne

A Woman Doing Life: Notes from a Prison for Women, Erin George

Life Without Parole: Living in Prison Today, Victor Hassine

Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship and the End of Violence in Inner-City America,

David M. Kennedy

Latino Homicide: Immigration, Violence, and Community, Ramiro Martinez

Street Women, Eleanor M. Miller

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, Wes Moore

Great Pretenders: Pursuits and Careers of Persistent Thieves, Neal Shover

Your book review should cover the three areas listed below. Although it is not necessary that you explicitly divide your review into the three parts as is done below, I will evaluate your review separately for each focus area.


In this section, you should provide a summary or overview of your selected book's focus and relevance. Your overview should provide an adequate presentation of the book's focus to someone who has not read the book. Your summary should accomplish 2 things. First, it should demonstrate that you have carefully read the book and can discuss its basic focus or subject. Second, your summary should serve as the introduction to your paper and provide an outline of your upcoming arguments. You should therefore try to emphasize in your overview the elements of the book that will be most relevant in the discussion that follows in Parts 2 and 3. Some things to consider in this section:

●What is the focus and goal of the book? What is the purpose of the research?

●Why is this book/research relevant or important for us to know about?

●How do the authors conduct their research? Describe the methodology involved and how data were collected.

●What theoretical perspective is implied or explicitly used by the authors to present the material in the book? Do the authors use a micro (social process) or macro (social structure) level approach? In order to identify the authors' theoretical perspective, it might help to think about the variables that are discussed in the book. In which sociological theories of crime are these variables relevant?

●Briefly, what are the authors' most important insights and conclusions? How does their research advance our understanding of the topic being studied? What are the unique contributions of the research to a sociological understanding of crime?


This part of your paper requires you to specifically apply material from the course (lectures, discussions and readings) to your chosen book. Be sure to cite material appropriately. Your discussion in this section should focus on 2 things.

A. Application of a Specific Theory: First, you should discuss/apply a specific theory you learned during the semester in this course to the contents of the book. What are the specific concepts in the theory, what do they mean, and how do they apply to the contents of the book? What are the specific hypotheses or arguments in the theory, how do these hypotheses relate to the book and/or how are they illustrated in the book? To what extent does the evidence or contents presented in the book support or contradict the theory you are discussing? Using specific examples of cases described in the research sometimes helps in illustrating a particular theoretical argument or concept.

If you think that your selected book does not explicitly provide a discussion that reflects one of the theories we have covered, then select one yourself and provide your own argument or interpretation of how it applies to the information in the book.

In either case, you should focus on clearly demonstrating your knowledge of the theory you are presenting and how the material in your book reflects that theory.

Part 2. (continued)

B. Application of Other Course Material: In addition to various theories, by the time you write your papers we will have covered in lecture and assigned readings other ideas and research related to the topics discussed in your book. To what extent does your book reflect, illustrate or relate to these other materials? Does your book support the material, data, or positions discussed in the course? Does it contradict this material? Does it extend or refine them? How could the material covered in the course be better understood through incorporating the information presented in your book?


Part 3 provides you with the opportunity to give an overall evaluation of your book, its argument or presentation. Based on all that you have discussed thus far, how would you rate this book? Some points to consider:

●What parts of the authors' arguments do you agree and disagree with and WHY (i.e., which of the arguments were particularly convincing, which were weak, and WHY). To what extent does the material presented in the book agree with your own knowledge of the subject? Did the material confirm things you already knew, or was most of the information surprising or unexpected?

●Evaluate the methodology used. How are the results limited by the particular way in which the study was conducted? How does the methodology contribute to the strength, relevance, insight, or value of the results? Here you might incorporate our course discussions on UCR data, self-report methodology, and/or victimization studies.

●Evaluate the theoretical perspective used (or the fact that one is MISSING). To what degree is the book limited by the use of this perspective? To what degree is the book limited due to a lack of a theoretical perspective? Do you think the authors neglect to mention important information or theories that are relevant to the issues discussed in the book? What additional theories or interpretations would you offer to add to the discussion? How could these theories (concepts and hypotheses) provide an explanation for the events described in the book? (You may have already covered this in Part 2)

●What questions are left unanswered by the book/research? If you were to conduct the research again or re-write the book, what would you add, how would you improve it, what would you do differently? Why are the suggestions you make important? How would they improve the research?