Final writing assignment – construct a theory


Throughout the course, we covered many theories of crime and criminality.  Often times, these theories contained competing concepts and ideologies. Your task is to construct a crime theory of your own.  What causes crime? In other words, what factors would you include in a theory to explain why a person becomes involved in criminal/deviant behavior? Select a specific crime or type of crime and discuss the elements/concepts of your theory, the explanation or theoretical rationale and policy (what can be done to reduce or eliminate this crime). 

1.) Definition and description of crime. First, you should choose a type of crime in which
you are interested such as homicide, robbery, drug dealing, or terrorism. It is fine if you
are more interested in discussing categories of crime such as property or violent crimes
in general, but be sure that you narrow the topic somewhat. Once you have decided on
the scope of crimes that you want to explain, you should define and describe the criminal

2.) Theoretical analysis. To explain the criminal behavior that you choose, you may rely
on a theory or theories covered in class and readings. You may also design your own
theory based on the components of theories covered in class. 

The theoretical section should have the following sub-components:
a.) Discussion of the assumptions of human nature on which your theory is based.
b.) Clear definitions of the concepts important to your theory.
c.) An explanation of the major cause(s) of crime by specifying the relationships
between concepts.

3.) Implications for public policy. Finally, your description of criminal behavior and
theories to explain it should be connected with a discussion of social control and public
policy. Thus, you should address how effective formal (or informal) social control
institutions are likely to reduce the criminal behavior you discuss. For example, would
harsh punishments be more effective than rehabilitation to control thieves? Is it even
possible to “correct” individuals’ criminal behavior? Briefly discuss the best role of police
and courts with regards to the criminal behavior. For example, should we make longer
prison sentences and add more police to the streets?

The paper length should be 2 – 3 double spaced pages of content, using 12- point font and standard margins. This does not include a title page (optional) or reference page. You must include a “References” section to document the literature you have consulted.  You may use APA or MLA format for references. You also need to include references within the text (e.g., (Walker, 1998)). There should be at least one in-text citation for every reference you have on the reference page. I prefer that you cite outside sources and put ideas into your own words, rather than using long quotations. However, a few short quotations are acceptable. If you have questions regarding what constitutes plagiarism, please ask. There is also a document link in the Getting Started module in reference to plagiarism. 

Human nature
All theories are based on assumptions of human nature. Classical theorists assumed that humans are guided by individual
interest—people seek to gain rewards and avoid punishments. In contrast, many sociologists typically stress the importance of group level phenomena such as institutions and conformance to rules.

Concepts organize and simplify phenomena, and are essentially definitions. In order for you to clearly outline a theory, you need to clearly define all of its conceptual attributes. Thus, if subcultures are important in your theory, explain exactly what you mean by a subculture.

Relationship between theoretical concepts
Theories provide explanations about one set of events by referring to other events. Thus, theories are based on relationships between concepts. Your assignment is to explain how the concepts of your theory are related to one another. In other words, you need to articulate how your concepts are interlinked to produce the effects to be explained or predicted.


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