Ph.D. Theory Comp Questions
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FALL 1998


1. Provide an essay with appropriate citations that answers the following questions:

Why do so many people never become criminals?

Why do so many criminals (even chronic offenders) terminate their careers rather than continuing their serious criminal behavior?

2. During the past century, beginning with the Chicago School, many sociological explanations of crime have been advanced. Develop a typology of these theoretical efforts that captures the major schools of thought with regard to their historical context, major assumptions, exemplary theories/theorists, and explanatory strengths and weaknesses.

3.     One of the most reliable facts about crime is its relationship to age. Property crime peaks at about 16-17 years of age and violent crime at about 22-23. Thereafter, both decrease systematically with age. Critically assess the ability of the following theoretical perspectives to account for the relationship of crime to age (including desistence from crime with age):

        Control Theory
        Cultural Learning
        Strain Theory
        Enduring Personal Differences (Gottfredson & Hirschi)


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1. Discuss and critically evaluate the contributions of (a) rational choice theory, (b) situational opportunity theory, (c) routine activities theory, and (d) integrated systems theory, to the study and practice of environmental crime prevention.

2. The concept of "race" has been treated as both a biological and a social construct in criminological theory, policy, and practice. Review the theoretical problems (issues) that have been raised with regards to identifying and measuring the biological and social significance of a race. Then, discuss how criminal justice policies and practices are affected by definitions of race. Cite relevant literature throughout.

3. What, if any, differences have been found between males and females concerning biological aspects of aggressive and violent behavior? Cite references to 'recent' relevant literature.


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1. What has been the mass media's impact over the past 20 years on our everyday understandings of the following: serial killers, drug dealers, pregnant drug and alcohol abusers, criminal recidivists, and violent teens? Can the media images be backed-up by theory and research? How have media images impacted on policy? What can the discipline of criminology do to improve media crime reporting?

2. Recent events involving President Clinton and Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr have led to much discussion about issues of privacy, legality, and justice, as well as broader discussions of social control and democracy in the new millennium. Consider the past two decades and describe exactly how social control and democracy have fared. Be specific with your citations, and include various justice, penology, and other policy examples that together capture the character and likely future of social control and democracy as we enter the new millenium.

3. A basic premise of many scholars has been that the "knowing subject" (e.g., the criminal) plays a central role in the constitution of knowledge. How may this approach to the development of knowledge generally, help us to understand the development of criminological theory?


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FALL 1997


1.     Inherent in each of the following criminological theories is a diagnosis of the ‘cause’ of deviant/criminal activity. Select three of the following sociological theories of crime and: (l) Identify the proposed causes of deviance; (2) Identify the type of criminal activity that this theory seeks to explain, and critically evaluate the theoretical strengths and weaknesses; (3) Identify the type of therapeutic intervention or the logical policy solutions to crime/criminal activity which can be derived from the theory's causal diagnosis.

        Social Disorganization
        Differential Association
        Conflict Theory
        Control Theory

2. Contemporary strain theories characterize young offenders as distressed individuals who turn to delinquency because of feelings of hopelessness that derive from childhood and adolescent deprivations. Yet, this theoretical interpretation is undermined by numerous empirical studies that report self-confessed delinquents express no more distress than non-delinquents. Review this literature and the theoretical interpretations that have resulted from this research.

3. It is commonly recognized that marginal participation in the labor force results in higher criminality. Recent research has suggested that, while people do indeed engage in crime to supplement material needs or desires, or out of helplessness and anger, it is not simply the income of work that is salient. Rather, it is the order and stability that goes with good work which reduces criminality. Discuss this relationship from the perspectives of (a) critical theory, and (b) functional theory.

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1. Trace the influence of the "Nature vs. Nurture" controversy on the historical development of criminological theory and research. What is the state of this controversy in American criminology today? (Support your assessment -with reference to recent relevant literature.)

2.     Review the current progress in two (2) of the following areas of research, and critically evaluate the implications of each of your selections for (a) the advancement of criminological theory, and (b) the development of public policy aimed at the prevention or control of criminal/delinquent behavior:

        Genome Project
        Male/female brain research
        Study of psychopathy
        DNA cloning research
        Study of environmental toxicity

3. Crime is principally a male endeavor. Compare and contrast four (4) theories (including, but not limited to biological) which attempt to explain this fact.

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1. Historical studies in criminology have employed various theoretical frameworks. Review several major theoretical orientations that have been regularly employed in criminological historical studies and identify the major strengths and weaknesses of each of these frameworks. Finally, discuss what you believe to be the necessary theoretical developments if we are to advance historical scholarship in criminology.

2. During the past decade, considerable debate has focused on the content, character and significance of racial discrimination in America s criminal justice system. Review the problems (issues) that have been raised with regard to identifying and measuring racial discrimination in America's criminal justice system. Then, discuss how criminal justice theory and policy are affected by this dilemma.

3. In what ways are the theoretical models employed within the criminal justice system reflective of the political, economic, and social dynamics which are predominant during that era? Are there apparent historical exceptions to this general trend?


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1. The explosion of property and violent crime in the former Soviet Union and the spreading influence of Russian gangs and organized crime cartels has been in the news in recent months. What do criminological theories have to offer in the way of explanatory insights to account for this sudden increase in criminal activity?

2. Since the 1960s, labeling theory has experienced several "popularity shifts" in criminology. First, describe labeling theory in the 1960s and explain it's rapid popularity rise during this period citing relevant literature. Second, describe labeling theory's popularity decline that began in the mid l970s and explain this decline citing relevant literature. Third, describe labeling theory's current popularity resurgence in criminology and explain this resurgence citing relevant literature.

3. Elliot Currie, Sam Walker, John Hagan, William Julius Wilson and other contemporary social scientists have provided compelling evidence that recent urban crime trends may be products of large scale social and economic changes taking place in American society. Discuss the evidence that supports this perspective and then explain how a critic would attack these interpretations.

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1. Recently, the development of technologies for successful genetic 'cloning' and DNA 'repair' has generated national and international debate concerning the ethics of applying this new scientific knowledge to human beings. What are the implications of this debate for (A) the advancement of criminological theory and research, and (B) the administration of criminal justice in the United States?

2. Write a brief essay on the topic "Alcohol and Criminal Behavior." Include in your discussion specific references to pertinent research literature in biological, psychological, and social categories of analysis.

3. In the early 1970s, works in the area of environmental crime prevention were published by Oscar Newman and C. Ray Jeffery. Compare the respective contributions of these authors to (A) the advancement of criminological theory, and (B) the development of public policy concerning crime prevention.

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1. A movement in favor of "restorative justice" appears to be bubbling up from the field -- that is, local practitioners in corrections are turning to "restorative" principles in place of the traditional retributive ideas underlying the dominant justice system. The "restorative" method includes victim-offender mediation, sentencing circles, reintegrative shaming, and other concepts and practices. In light of this ground-up movement, please answer the following:

a. How does "restorative justice" differ from retributive justice? What philosophical justifications are used to advance a "restorative" view, and how do these differ from retributive justifications?

b. What objections would a Kantian retributivist (desert theorist) raise with regard to the restorative movement, and how would the restorative theorists respond?

C. If you wanted to rewrite a typical penal code to base it on a foundations of restorative principles, what laws would you have to change, and why? How would you change them?

2. The Florida Legislature is currently considering a bill that would provide for chemical castration of the state's sexual predators. Similar practices had been adopted in the past by a number of states in order to modify various undesirable behaviors/conditions, such as mental problems, aggressiveness and the like. Discuss the ethical issues that the proposed legislation raise and the likely resolution of this dilemma.

3. Historical scholarship in criminology is gaining greater prominence in the discipline. The issue of history versus theory, however, continues to be controversial. First, discuss the history versus theory debate and illustrate how criminologists have approached this issue in their research. Second, conclude your discussion by describing the kind of theory building that is necessary if criminologists are to grasp the intricate and multi dimensional interplay involved in history and social action.

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FALL 1996


1. David Matza has argued that a characteristic feature of "positivist" theories of criminal behavior has been to presume and seek to discover "fundamental differences" between criminals and non-criminals. Certainly, from Lombroso's concept of Homo Criminalis to Gottfredson & Hirschi's concept of "enduring individual differences" the presumption of "differentiation" has been a strong one in criminological theory. Describe and critically assess recent theories of criminal behavior that presume fundamental differences based on social circumstances. What are the merits and limits of such approaches to explaining criminal behavior?

2. The role "impoverished neighborhoods" on criminal behavior has provided a theoretical focus for numerous criminological studies throughout this century. Trace the development of this theoretical orientation to crime toward the end of establishing the effects of poverty, neighborhood and individual development and outcomes.

3. Assume you are attending a panel on the causes and cures of crime at the American Society of Criminology meetings with the following persons serving as panelists: William Julius Wilson, John Dilullo and Ronald Akers. Describe their individual perspectives or the causes and cures of crime then choose a fourth Criminologist to serve as the panel's discussant. What would your chosen discussant have to say about these three perspectives?

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1. Compare and critically evaluate the manner in which the factors of "sex" and "gender" are being used in current crime-related theory and research.

2. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of integrated systems theory for the advancement of criminological knowledge.

3. State and defend a position either for or against the use of genetic research findings for the (a) prevention, and (b) control of crime and delinquency. Insofar as possible, cite relevant literature to make your argument as strong and convincing as you can.

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1. Foucault noted that "on the soft fibers of the brain are established the most secure bases of empires." Beginning with the shift from vengeful feudal assaults on the body to the reforms intending to produce deterrence, social control has increasingly been accomplished in ways that the individual mediates from within. Whether you see this as activity originating in the "mind" or the brain, discuss the variety of ways in which social control has been accounted for in terms of "the soft fibers of the brain" by students of punishment and or social control.

2. During the past several decades increasing criminological interest has been focused upon the history of American criminal justice. A finding emerging from many of these "revisionist" studies is that we continue to repackage ideologies and programs which have been tried before and have failed. This practice of "reform without change" or promises of "benevolent reform" that result in "benevolent repression" has emerged as a consistent theme in these studies. Discuss examples of this research and account for this patterned finding.

3. Discuss the extent to which criminology and criminal justice studies has been tied to reform ideals from the very beginning of the discipline to the present. Provide examples from different time periods that illustrate the specific reforms that were called for, as well as some assessment of what impact they had. How do these observations relate to the "value-free" notion that has been so closely associated with scientific method?

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SPRING, 1996


1. The deterministic model of research dominates the field of criminology, implying that behavior is fully determined. Consistent with this model research attempts to identify variables that increase or decrease the probability of criminal behavior. Recently the explanation of crime as individual choice has regained popularity. Describe the deterministic and individual choice models, the major historical and contemporary theorists associated with each, and how studies based (in whole or in part) on the deterministic model do or should differ from the studies based on the individual choice model.

2. In the book "Crime and Disrepute" the author John Hagan argues in favor of a "new sociology of crime and disrepute". What does Hagan mean by this and how does he view the usefulness of traditional sociological theories in explaining crime today? Further, what policy implications can be derived from Hagan's proposed theoretical approach?

3. A major criticism of Social Disorganization Theory is that it does not explain why all people exposed to "bad environments" and the "criminal element" do not become criminal, and why some people not exposed to these conditions do become criminal. What sociological theories do a better job of accounting for these realities? Include current research in your answer

4. Given the Rodney King incident, together with recent highly publicized events involving criminal activity on the part of police officers in New York City, Detroit and New Orleans (e.g., theft, extortion, drug dealing, murder), explain police deviance using criminological theory. Which theory or theories have/has the most explanatory power?

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1. Several decades ago, both Ronald Akers and C. Ray Jefferey published works in which they attempted to integrate the propositions of B.F. Skinner's instrumental learning theory with those of Edwin Sutherland's theory of differential association.

                                a. What was the product or outcome of each of these efforts?

b. How, if at all, have these earlier works influenced the directions that the respective scholars have taken in their subsequent theoretical works? Cite examples.

c. How, if at all, have other criminological theorists used each of these earlier works? Cite examples.

2. Argue that serious, repeated criminal behavior is a disorder or psychopathology like depression or anxiety. Cite evidence which supports your argument.

3. In recent years several criminologists have advocated integrated theories of crime. One such integrated approach is referred to as "integrated systems theory". Utilize integrated systems theory to explain criminal behavior.

4. Classic sociological theories often explain career criminals as being products of diminished social controls, excessive labeling, alienation, or criminal subcultures. Why would a biological criminologist say that these are overly simplistic views of criminal behavior? What are some of the ways that a biological determinist might explain a career criminal?


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1. Discuss the ethical issues related to your own criminological research interests.

2. Which four books or journal articles have had the strongest influence on your development as a criminologist? Explain your choices, using those dimensions you consider important.

3. Discuss the relevance of three of the following persons for the development of historical criminological theory:

        Michel Foucault
        David Rothman
        David Garland
        Lawrence Friedman

4. In regard to making criminal justice policy actions and decisions, there are essentially two contrasting positions on whether criminological theory should guide them. The first says no, theory should play no role in the formation of public policy. The second says yes, public policy should be informed and guided by theory. Lilly, Cullen and Ball (1989) have provided a third position: they insist there should be no question about whether theories should guide policies and decisions, because they already do (necessarily). Assuming Lilly, Cullen and Ball are correct, discuss recent criminal justice proposals by legislators in Florida (you live here, after all), and provide an analysis of the theories that undoubtedly underlie therein.

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FALL, 1995


1. Gary Becker was a recent Nobel Prize winner in economics. He received his award for the application of economic theory to realms of inquiry not traditionally impacted by economic ideas. One of those included criminal behavior. His approach to criminal behavior, as to most behavior that has economic advantage as a primary goal or final cause, assumes that individuals maximize their utility in a manner that approximates "rational" choice. Discuss the relevance and limits of rationality, utility and choice for criminal behavior and the policy implications of your understanding.

2. A participant of the Million Man March asserted to a CNN reporter that the problem of crime in America's inner cities was due to a lack of organization and internal support in the African-American community. Using recent criminological theory, assess the position that crime is a result of disorganization and weak bonds.

3. Assess the ability of traditional sociological theories of crime to explain the existence of political malfeasance (e.g., selling votes, misusing campaign funds). As a part of this assessment, indicate which theories are most effective in explaining this form of deviance. Which are the least effective?

4. The issues of punishment and social control have been central to criminological theory since the beginning of the discipline. Critically assess the contributions of Beccaria, Marx, Durkheim, and Foucault with regard to punishment and social control.

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1. Discuss the grounds on which some people have argued that crime is a psychopathological "disorder" and the ramifications to society if this view were accepted by the criminal justice system.

2. African American men comprise six percent of this nation's population and almost fifty percent of its prisoners. Critically assess the value of biological and/or psychological explanations for interpreting this phenomenon.

3. In 1992, David Wasserman (a legal scholar at the University of Maryland) and his colleagues sought to sponsor a national conference on genetics and criminal behavior. The proposal stirred up such strong reaction from so many quarters that the National Institute of Health withdrew its funding for the meetings, an action which led to their cancellation. Despite continuing controversy, the conference was finally held this past September. Why would such a conference be so controversial?

4. Critically evaluate the theoretical implications of the following report for understanding aggressive and violent criminal behavior (adapted from Maugh, T.H. II, "Lowering Cholesterol Could Raise Your Ire", Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1992):

A growing body of evidence suggests that diets and drugs which lower cholesterol levels may indirectly raise the risk of certain types of violent injury and death by producing personality changes - inducing anger, irritability, aggressiveness and increased risk-taking.

Public health authorities have long urged Americans to lower the amount of fats in their diets in order to reduce their cholesterol levels. Now, it appears that the resulting decrease in heart-attack deaths has been offset by an increased risk of death from violence, suicide and risk-taking accidents.

Dr. Hymna Engleberg, an iternist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says that, "These studies throw into a cocked hat the whole proposition that every American should lower his or her cholesterol levels. People who have had a heart attack, stroke, or a very bad early medical history have far more to gain than to lose by lowering their cholesterol, but for a healthy population, they have as much to lose as to gain."

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1. One of the most significant demographic developments of the past twenty-five years in the United States, has been the growth of an urban "underclass." What theoretical relevance does that development have for our understanding of crime and punishment during that period?

2. During the past several decades considerable debate has been focused on the usefulness of labeling theory. Review the problems that have been raised with regard to labeling theory. Next, discuss the empirical literature indicating the elements of labeling theory that may be critical to include in a comprehensive or integrated theory of crime.

3. Assume you are attending a debate on the problem of crime at the ASC Annual Meetings between Jeffery Reiman, Travis Hirschi, John Braithwaite and Joan McCord. Describe the areas of agreement and disagreement among any three of these four. Which one will be able to provide the most empirical support for his/her theoretical stance? Which one the least amount of empirical support for his/her theoretical stance?

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1. Discuss how the factors of pleasure and pain have been used differently by theorists in biological, psychological, social economic, and legal disciplines, in order to explain criminal behavior and promote crime control strategies.

2. Discuss theories of behavior learning in terms of:

        Behavioral genetics
        Classical conditioning
        Operant conditioning
        Social learning
        Integrated systems

3. Assume for the moment that 0.J. did it. Given what you can identify or assume as facts in the case (about the crime and about Simpson), what theories of crime causation appear to explain it. Comment on what seems to you to be limitations as well as strengths in the theories, with reference to how well they "work" in the Simpson case. You need not limit your discussion to psycho-biological, bio-social and psychological theories.

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1. Which theoretical formulations are reflected in the current Republican initiatives in the area of crime control? Which theoretical formulations are reflected in the traditional Democratic initiatives? What are the major differences in these sets of theoretical formulations? An what, generally, is the role of ideology in the formulation of responses to crime.

2. In 1916 Bonger wrote Criminality and Economic Conditions applying Marxian notions to explain crime. Between this time and the 1970s little effort was given to further applications of Marxian notions to crime or criminal justice. Beginning in the 1970s interest literally exploded in applying Marxist writings to criminal behavior, law, and criminal justice. Trace the chronology of Marx beginning with his writings in the mid-19th century, Bonger's subsequent application in the early 20th century and the more recent applications during the past several decades. Include in your review some of the major approaches that have emerged since the 1970s and the subsequent debates and refinements toward the end of articulating where Marxian approaches now stand and their likely future in criminology.

3. Discuss how ethics and conceptions of justice guide the researcher in terms of (I) designing the testing of theory, and (2) utilizing the results as policy.

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FALL 1994


1. Are criminological theories merely different or, at most, inconsistent with each other in terms of one aspect or another? Or are they in conflict with each other, so that one, if true, means another must be false, in whole or in part? Discuss this with reference to specific sociological and/or social psychological theories toward concluding which of the above propositions is most defensible and why.

2. Compare the following theoretical positions in relation to available research evidence concerning (a) poverty, and (b) differential perceptions of relative deprivation, as significant causes of criminal behavior.

3. Cohen argues in Visions of Social Control that in any satisfactory attempt to explain social control, theorists must sift through various theoretical models and assign them relative explanatory weight. Choose an example of criminal justice policy and illustrate Cohen's argument with as many sociological theories you deem necessary to account for why the words and deeds of your chosen policy are not the same.

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1. Over the past two decades, extensive twin/adoption studies have been conducted in the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.  The findings from all of this research have been summarized as follows (Konner, 1990 - insert added):

To the skeptical eye of a behavioral scientist, especially one who may not have followed the behavior genetics of the Eighties, the results are stunning: About 50 percent of measured personality diversity [e.g. I.Q., likes/dislikes, attitudes, impulsivity, thrill-seeking or avoidance of danger, aggressiveness, anxieties, hostilities, and fears, among other personality characteristics] can be attributed to genetic diversity. ... While this would seem to imply that the remaining 50 percent is explained by environmental effects, that's an oversimplification. In fact, at least I 5 percent of that remainder is measurement error, inflating the estimate of the environmental contribution.

If the above is a reasonably accurate assessment, what additions, modifications, and deletions, if any, would be suggested in the major propositions of (A) Sutherland's theory of differential association, and Skinner's theory of instrumental learning?

2. The National Center for Disease Control has proposed that individual violent behavior should be understood and dealt with as "pathology" which is rapidly increasing to epidemic propositions in the population of the United States. What different types of available research findings might be cited in support of the notion that violent behavior is psychobiologically pathological? Include references to specific studies as examples of different types of relevant research.

3. The role of the insanity plea in the administration of criminal justice is a focal point in the controversy of science versus law. What recent developments in psychobiological research concerning aggressive and violent behaviors have fueled this controversy? Be specific in your review of research studies.


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1. It is said, "Whatever goes around, comes around." Assuming that the history of criminological thought is cyclical, identify at least three theories that have "come around" after having "gone around." For each theory, discuss the differences as well as the similarities between the earlier and later iterations, noting the modifications thinkers have made and the empirical evidence in support of these modifications.

2. James Q. Wilson (1994) argues "that increasing the deterrent effect of prison is not as easy as it may first appear. You will have to first increase the arrest rate; more cops would help, but that is not enough. You will have to find more prosecutors (and public defenders) and make them work harder, because if the chances of prisons for a given offense go up, the chances of a defendant taking a plea bargain go down. Then you would have to shrink judicial discretion, something that judges will fight to the bitter end. They don't like mandatory sentencing laws and some are willing to take steps to avoid them." First, review the literature on deterrence that supports many of Wilson's claims. Second, review the deterrence literature that conflicts with many of Wilson's claims. Finally, weighing the deterrence literature what policy conclusions can you make in response to Wilson's claims?

3.    Discuss thoroughly as many significant ethical issues as you can identify that concern the following dimensions of theory: (a) conception (or paradigm or hypothesis); (b) methodological implementation (or research in the field, laboratory, or elsewhere); (c) applications in policy or practice.

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1. In recent years, numerous calls to develop integrated theories have appeared in criminological literature. Typically, these calls address macro (social/economic) and micro (individual) level theory integration. Increasingly, however, calls for theory integration have begun to address the need to integrate such concepts as age, gender and race in explanations of crime. Using your knowledge of criminological theory and research, argue in favor of macro and micro integration and provide an outline of the salient factors that could be included in the integration of age, gender and race.

2. Increasingly, interest has been given toward a feminist perspective on crime, particularly related to whether explanations of crime committed by males also apply to crime committed by females and/or explanation of the high ratio of male to female crime rates. Review the status of feminist perspectives on crime toward the end of articulating the sort of research needed to advance the theoretical structure of a feminist theory on crime.

3. Contrast the contributions of Durkheim, Mead and Marx to our understanding of both crime and social control.

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1. Review the history of psycho-biological explanations of crime that have been developed since 1970. What progress has been made in the theoretical development and the accumulation of empirical support for this position?

2. Evaluate the contributions of twin and adoption studies to the understanding of delinquent and criminal behavior since the 1960s. Your response should include reference to specific researchers, the design of the studies they conducted and their reported findings.

3. Corporate and white collar crimes have typically been assessed through the use of social, economic and political theory. Discuss the ability of biological and psychological theory to address these crimes. Provide examples of ways in which biological and psychological theory may improve our understanding of these forms of elite deviance.

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1. Today, this country is experiencing an explosion of various "get tough on crime" proposals that include "three strikes," castration of sex offenders, boot camps, remanding many juvenile offenders to adult courts, etc. These various proposals reflect, in part, efforts by politicians to calm or respond to the growing public fear over crime in general and violent crime in particular. Assume that you are giving a presentation to a group of citizens and the purpose of your presentation is to employ criminological theory as a means to critique the current "get tough on crime" movement. Describe the issues you would raise, the theories you would employ and the conclusions and crime control alternatives you would recommend.

2. What impact did the period of critical inquiry known as the "Enlightenment" have on the development of criminology?

3. Select any criminologist of the 20th century (but not a member of the FSU faculty) and identify and discuss, as specifically as you can, the elements of his or her explanation of crime, locating it by reference to others (to which it was responding or is otherwise related) and evaluating it in terms of its strengths and limitations.


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1. Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor, in his book THE WORK OF NATIONS, traces the development of nationalism and internationalism, and he concluded that there is no such thing as a national economy today. Workers in the United States are more dependent on the economy of Japan than the USA. How does this movement to internationalism impact on sociological theories of crime which deal with social class and structuralism?

2. Theory integration has been a topic of discussion in a variety of criminological research over the past decade. This debate has taken many forms. For this question, specifically discuss the liabilities and benefits of integrating structural (macro-level theory) with individual level (subjective or micro-level) theory.

3. The world is "gendered" in many ways. For example, salaries, life expectancy, criminal victimization and criminal behavior are all related to gender. However, gender is rarely a major focus of criminological research. Discuss how gender could and should be more fully included in criminological research.

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1. A major area of interest in contemporary criminology concerns

the quest for theoretical integration of nature vs. nurture explanations of criminal behavior. Describe the quest and address major contributors to this quest. Include in your discussion some of the major benefits to be achieved if this quest is met. Further, provide a critical evaluation of this nature vs. nurture quest.

2. (A) Set out an 'integrated systems' proposal for reducing the incidence of psychopathic, episodically violent, criminal behavior. Your proposal should incorporate biological, psychological and social factors.

        (B) Explain the theoretical interactions among the factors you have selected for inclusion in your proposal.

        (C) Insofar as possible, justify your proposal and underlying theoretical assumptions in terms of available research evidence.

3. Drug abuse/addiction, including alcoholism, involves the brain. Explain how brain functioning is involved in addiction. Discuss how psychotherapeutic and sociological theories of addiction can be incorporated into a general theory of addiction.

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1. The transition from feudalism to capitalism is one of the most important developments in the history of Western civilization. Discuss the relevance of that transition for the development of criminological theory generally, and for theories of punishment and social control in particular. Critically assess the contributions of Beccaria, Marx, Durkheim, and Foucault with regard to punishment and social control.

2. Historical studies are gaining prominence in criminology's academic literature. Discuss three major historical studies in criminology with regard to problem(s) addressed, theoretical orientation, major findings, and significance of the studies to contemporary criminological theory and research. What do you see to be the major role of historical research in criminology's theoretical development.

3. Which three books have had the strongest influence on your development as a criminologist and why? Exclude from your answer individuals who are grading the exam.


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FALL 1992


1. Race and ethnicity are often included in studies of crime as an empirical consideration. However, the theoretical implications of race and ethnicity are generally ignored at the theoretical level. Employing either crime causation studies or criminal justice system studies on race/ethnic bias, explain the theoretical relevance of including race or ethnicity in such studies. Discuss existing relevant literature that employs race/ethnicity theoretically rather than empirically.

2. Gary Becker (who this year received the Nobel prize in economics) argued that the economic theory of crime that he put forward in 1968 was nothing more than a restatement and modernization of the "classical" criminology of Beccaria and Bentham. What assumptions about human nature underlie Classical Criminology and modern, utilitarian economic theory? To what extent does the evidence support or not support these assumptions?

3. Critically assess the contributions of G.H. Mead, E. Durkheim, and K. Marx to criminological theory. Be specific in drawing linkages between the concepts of these theorists and those of criminologists who may have applied these concepts.


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1. At the recent ASC meeting a panel on integrated criminological theory dealt with integration of social learning, social control, conflict, and symbolic interactionism as theoretical statements. Comment on this type of integration and discuss what part of the brain is involved in social learning, social control, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.

2. In recent years major advances have been made in mapping the genetic code and relating genetic systems to human behavior. What impact will genetic research have on criminological theory? What impact, if any, will such research have on the administration of criminal justice?

3. Discuss in detail the impact of modern psychobiology and neuropsychiatry on such issues as prevention, treatment, retribution, and deterrence as found in criminological theory.


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1. The rise of the bourgeoisie as a class, and the transition from feudalism to capitalism in the 17th and 18th centuries, was a watershed in the social, political and intellectual history of the West. Discuss the impact that such a transition had on (a) ideas about human behavior and social/political life and (b) the character of social control.

2. Discuss the issue of "law versus science" in terms of:

(a) differing views about what "law" is, and the relative value of each view for use in scientific inquiry concerning crime and criminal behavior; and,

(b)    major issues confronting attempts to integrate new scientific knowledge about human behavior with contemporary administration of criminal justice.


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1.    In the past several years, the relationship between labor surplus and imprisonment has received extensive theoretical attention. Discuss the variety of theoretical linkages that have been developed to account for this relationship and assess the empirical evidence that has been brought to bear upon it.

2. Contrast the theoretical positions put forth by Durkheim, Park and Burgess, Matza, and Hirschi, and show where the empirical support comes from for each theoretical system.

3. Few theories of crime take race into account in theoretically important or meaningful ways. Most often, when race is mentioned in criminological research it receives cursory treatment and is used solely as a control variable or as an adjunct to empirical research. Discuss the need to develop theories of crime that pay greater attention to race as a variable of theoretical interest. What types of studies is race most important to? Discuss whether race is equally important to biological, psychological, sociological, and economic theories of crime.


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1. A friend of yours has been legally charged as a serial murderer. Discuss the full range of criminological/criminal justice theory that you feel would be relevant in the preparation of his defense.

2. Human beings are born with a given brain structure. If this is the case, how does the modification of behavior occur from birth to death? How can psychological theories (Freudian, behavioral, biochemical) and sociological theories (structure, class, learning, opportunity, control) be used to explain whatever occurs between birth and death?

3. Criminologists often devise and use crime specific explanations. This creates the general impression that certain disciplines are better suited for explaining specific types of crime. For example, sociological and economic theories are often used to explain reoccurring, patterned crimes, particularly those related to property theft. Biological and psychological theories are often employed to explain "more unusual" crimes such as mass murder, serial homicide and serial rape. Discuss whether certain types of theories are indeed better suited to explanation of specific types of crime.

In answering this question, you must reverse the common assumptions made above (i.e., that biological and psychological theories are better explanations for unusual crimes and violent crimes, and that sociological theory is a better explanation of property and patterned crimes) and discuss how and whether:

a) biological/psychological theories can explain property crimes; and, be used to

b) sociological/economic theories can be used to explain violent and unusual crimes (e.g., mass murder, and serial homicides)

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1. Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolution argues that new theoretical paradigms emerge when older paradigms can no longer make sense of emergent or newly discovered "facts" or realities. Discuss the applicability of such paradigm shifts in the development of criminology as a discipline.

2. From Biblical times, punishment has been used as the primary agent of social control. This is true even today, with our new technologies and new scientific knowledge about human behavior. How do you account for the historical persistence of punishment in the face of new knowledge, and in the face of the long history of the failure of punishment to control human behavior?

3. Criminology and criminal justice have developed into separate disciplines with their own spheres of knowledge. One consequence of this development is that criminologists and criminal justicians often neglect research in other disciplines that can be brought to bear on the study of crime. Select another field of study or discipline and discuss the ways in which that discipline can make important contributions to criminology and criminal justice.

4. Most surveys indicate that at the level of behavior, drug use has decreased in the last decade. Still, during that same period of time, admissions of drug offenders to Florida prisons have increased more than three-hundred percent. Develop at least three distinctive explanations of this phenomenon.


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FALL 1991


1. In the literature of criminology, considerable discussion is now being given to the need for theoretical integration Review this discussion with regard to major spokespersons, problems, and future prospects. Include examples of specific theoretical approaches that will benefit from successful integration, and the impediments that must be overcome in order to achieve such integration.

2. Does the collapse of state directed socialism in Eastern Europe mean that critical criminology has no future? Why? Why not?

3. Assume that you attended a plenary session at the American Society of Criminology meetings which involved a debate on "the cause(s) of crime" between Travis Hirschi, Richard Quinney, Ronald Akers, and Marvin Wolfgang. On what issues would they disagree and in what ways? Would you expect them to agree on any points? Elaborate.

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1. State at least three proposals for reducing the problem of domestic violence in the U.S. today. What theories of behavior (i.e., biological, psychological, social) underlie each of these proposals, and what empirical evidence exists in support of each theoretical model?

2. Discuss and explain how concepts such as the social environment, anomie, social learning, and labeling are processed and handled by behavioral scientists who use biological and psychological theories of human behavior?

3. Sixty to eighty percent of the offenders involved in Type I offenses have, or have been involved in, drug and alcohol addictions. These individuals often have a history of violence and start their criminal careers at age 10 or 11. Discuss several theoretical positions which can be used to explain these facts. Also, discuss several theoretical positions which cannot be used to explain these facts.


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1. Several major ethical problems are involved in testing violent offenders for the biochemical correlates of violence, e.g., hair analysis, blood tests, EEC tests, MRI scans, CAT scans, and so forth. Present the arguments, pro and con, for allowing or not allowing medical treatment and research involving violence, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

2. Dividing the development of criminological theory into the five following periods (1st, prior to 1800; 2nd, 1800-l899; 3rd, 1900-1945; 4th, 1946-1970; and 5th, 1971-1991), select the persons who made the greatest contributions to criminological theory in each of these periods. For the persons you select in each time period, discuss the nature of their respective contributions, and explain why they are better choices than their contemporaries (in the same period).

3. Both bio-environmental and neo-Marxist criminology experienced a strong surge of interest beginning in the mid 1970s. What professional as well as socio-historical circumstances account for these concurrent developments?


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FALL 1990


1. Throughout the twentieth century a number of major theories have been put forth in the sociological literature to explain crime and criminal behavior. Discuss at least three of the theoretical perspectives, including in your answer the underlying assumptions1 major spokespersons, and explanatory strengths and weaknesses of each theory.

2. There has emerged in the past ten to fifteen years a rich theoretical tradition that seeks to link the emergence and characteristics of criminal punishment to elements of the political economy. Discuss some of the major contributions of this theoretical development and briefly assess the historical and empirical support for it.


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1. Pain, pleasure, and rationality have occupied the attention of theorists--political, legal, economic, social, and biopsychological--since early times. Show how these concepts are used to develop theories of behavior and theories of political action.

2. In recent decades neurological dysfunctions of several types have been studied as part of the abnormal behavioral patterns of individuals. Identify at least three types of dysfunctions, describe the behavior type associated with each dysfunction, discuss the recent research literature, and assess the current state of knowledge generated by the literature.


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1. Over the past several years there have been dramatic changes in the Soviet Union, especially politically and economically. Crime figures from the Soviet Union indicate an increase in crime over that period of time. Assume that these increases are real, and not an artifact of the data collection process. Relate this increase to the criminological debate between radical and traditional theorists. Using two different criminological theories explain this tremendous increase in crime over a short period of time.

2. Select a major crime problem in the United States. Discuss which theoretical formulations are reflected in the ideologies of the political left and right as they relate to crime in general, and as they relate to the specific crime problem you have selected. Discuss the criminal justice interventions geared to address the specific crime problem which logically emanate from the ideologies of the political left and the political rights. Discuss why criminal justice interventions must be related to theory.

3. Gary Marx in his recent book Undercover: Police Surveillance in America has the following 1928 quote from Justice Louis Brandeis: "Experiences should teach us to be most on our guard when government's purposes are beneficient. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest danger to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments - by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

Discuss this quote from Brandeis in relation to current criminal justice policy and/or reform issues. Include in your discussion citations from relevant literature to illustrate your position.


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1. Discuss the following excerpts from R.J. Sampson (1989), "The Promises and Pitfalls of Macro-level Research."

Simply put, macro-level researchers are not immune to questions concerning the level at which one's theoretical explanations should be pitched. The level at which a causal relation occurs is a complex issue that is not solved simply by the nature of how variables are measured or the unit for which they are measured, since psychological and sociological causal factors may underlie relations observed at both the individual and aggregate levels.

What then do we make of the findings that macro-sociologists so commonly emphasize-- e.g., that poverty/inequality is correlated with crime rates? Is the relation caused by an aggregation of individual-level effects of class, a genuine community-level effect, or is it simply a differential selection of individuals into communities based on prior (e.g., antisocial) behavior?

2. What is often referred to as political crime (e.g., terrorism) might actually be explained in a number of different ways: (1) as a political response or action; (2) as the behavior of pathological/psychotic individuals; (3) as the result of cultural traditions or historical cycles of violence; or (4) as the result of economic scarcity or absolute economic deprivation that forces alternative hierarchical systems based upon violence into existence. Compare and contrast these views and offer evidence in favor of one argument.


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1. The most recent issue of CRIMINOLOGY contained a review of biological criminology. If and when you read the article, what types of discussions, research, theoretical statements, and treatment measures would you expect to find?

2. Discuss theories of learning in terms of:

        Innate patterns of behavior
        Classical Pavlovian conditioning
        Operant Skinnerian conditioning
        Bioenvironmental learning theory
        Social learning theory


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1. 'Ethics in research’ has become an important question in wide circles of academia, including criminology. Disclose what you know about this matter, and give your explanation for why it has become an important topic in the past ten years (in contrast to the previous fifty years, during which it was paid very little attention). If, indeed, this is an area of significant problem, what do you see as a solution?

2. There are a number of different ways to explain patterns of social control. Before (and then along with) formal social controls, there were (and are) informal social controls and self-help approaches. Most criminologists focus upon the use of formal social control mechanisms and the expansion or contraction of such mechanisms of control. They recognize but rarely analyze extra-legal forces of social control and the factors that cause them to increase or decrease. One exception is 'self-help'. Explain this model and discuss contemporary research findings related to this approach.