CRIM 410. Theories of Justice & Crime

Examination, application, and critical review of classical and contemporary theories of crime. Classical, Interactionist, Structural, Learning, Critical, and Feminist theories. [Prereq: CRIM 325 and junior standing or greater.]

By now you have spent time thinking about the ways we, as a society, define, monitor, punish and talk about crime. In this course, you will dive into one of the most important aspects of criminology— criminological theory. In this class, we will explore various sociological explanations for why some people commit crimes. We will discuss the political and cultural contexts from which these theories developed, and analyze the usefulness of various paradigms for understanding crime and justice.

One of the primary objectives of this semester will be to explore some of the big questions in criminology through the lens of various theoretical orientations, both old and new. For example, how can we use theory to explain the relationship between poverty and crime, or to explain why certain population groups are labeled as criminal? You will be exploring relevant issues in criminological and justice theory through individual and group work assignments.


Moyer, Imogene L. 2001. Criminological Theories: Traditional and Non-Traditional Voices and Themes. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Foucault, Michel. 1977, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Wacquant, Loic. 2009, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity

Story, Brett. 2016, Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power Across Neoliberal America