This module will introduce students to the classical theories of crime, as well as exploring more contemporary analyses of these theories. It will examine a range of critiques the classical theories of crime have been subject to. The module will be divided into the following constituent parts:
Firstly, the module will begin with an overview of ‘what is crime’ by introducing the students to the overarching questions that run through criminological theory. For example, ‘who defines what a crime is?’, ‘why is something a crime in one country but not in another?’, ‘why does it matter if an action is a crime or not?’.
Then, the module will introduce the students to the positivist theories of crime: biological positivism, psychological positivism, and sociological positivism. It is envisaged that one lecture will be used to introduce the original theory and the following lecture will then discuss how the theory was developed by later theorists. The third will then discuss the critiques of the theoretical approach in question. Therefore, for example, 3 lectures will be spent on biological positivism: one on Lombroso and Goring, one on alter applications by Dugdale and Goddard, and one on the critiques of this type of positivist explanations of crime.
The module will then turn to the constructivist theories of crime. This part of the module will introduce the students to labelling theory and radical criminology (Marxism and post-Marxist theories such as Bonger and Chambliss). Again, one lecture will be used to introduce the theory in its original form, a second will be dedicated to more contemporary theorists and the final to critiques and limitations of the theory.
Each theory will be illustrated with examples drawn from modern history and current affairs in order to encourage the students to think about the real-life applicability of the theory in question. Documentaries, debates and news-stories will be used to bring each theory ‘to life’.