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Sociological Theories of Crime

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Francesca Menichelli (University of Surrey) explores sociological theories of crime. In the first module, we consider early approaches to explaining crime, particularly those from a Functionalist perspective, including Émile Durkheim’s concept of anomie and Robert Merton’s strain theory. The second module looks at subcultural theories, such as Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin’s notion of illegitimate opportunity structures, and the third focuses on the relationship between crime and place through the ideas of the Chicago School and broken windows theory. In the fourth module, we examine labelling theory and moral panics – approaches which look less at explaining why people commit crime and more at how crime is defined by society. The fifth module outlines three theoretical perspectives influenced by Marxism – radical criminology, critical criminology and left realism – and the final module looks at ideas grounded in rational choice theory, such as Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson’s routine activity theory.

About the Lecturer

Dr Francesca Menichelli is Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey. Her research focuses on crime prevention, policing and social control, and her teaching covers a broad range of criminological issues. She is author of Order and Conflict in Public Space (2016).

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