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Criminal Theory Essays

A list of possible essay questions

1. Over the last 30 years numerous theoretical integrations of two or more theories of crime have been proposed. First, explain how theoretical falsification, theoretical competition, and theoretical integration differ from each other. Second, explain how Longshore et al. (2004) combined self-control and social bond theories into a single integrated theory. Third, how you would create a new integrated theory of crime if you use two existing crime theories and discuss its potential strengths and limitations.

2. Empirical research indicates that men are more likely than women to engage in deviant and criminal behaviors. First, discuss the applicability of the dominant crime theories (focusing on low self-control and general strain theories) to explain gender gap in crime and etiology of criminal behaviors for both males and females. Second, assess empirical findings and their support regarding traditional crime theories’ applicability in explaining gender differences in crime and etiology of female deviance.

3. Conflict theory focuses on social inequality and power relations within society and argues that criminal justice decisions and discretion (from arrest to sentence) are biased against less powerful individuals. Discuss empirical findings (especially focusing on the empirical studies by Petrocelli et al. (2003) and Steffensmeier and Demuth (2001) on the exercise of discretion in applying the law against minorities.

4. Biological and psychological trait theories assume that biological and/or psychological factors influence aggressive/deviant/criminal behaviors. First, discuss how biological and psychological trait theories explain the causation of aggressive and criminal behaviors. Second, discuss empirical research and their findings on the impacts of biological and psychological factors on aggression and deviance.

5. During the last decade, a number of empirical studies have been conducted to understand the applicability of dominant crime theories in explaining the etiology of computer crime and school bullying. First, discuss empirical findings on crime theories’ generalizability in explaining computer crime and bullying. Second, which of the crime theories is most applicable to explain computer crime or school bullying and why?

6. Discuss social disorganization theory in detail, especially focusing on 1) two main issues raised by social disorganization theory, 2) key concepts and propositions of social disorganization theory, and 3) key findings of the study by Sampson and Groves (1989).

7. Since the late 1970s, developmental/life-course criminological theories have been developed to explain offending patterns of individuals in their lifetimes. Discuss 1) the age-crime relationship, 2) concepts of stability and desistance in antisocial behaviors, 3) theoretical explanation (focusing on low self-control theory) of stability of deviance, and 4) key concepts and propositions of Farrington’s ICAP theory as well as Moffitt’s developmental theory/taxonomy.

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