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Created: June 22, 2003
Latest Update: September 27, 2003

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Site Teaching Modules CRMJ/SOCA 233 Criminology: Week 6
Strain Theory
You will be held accountable for purposes of grading for the readings and exercises listed here. There will be no "testing." That means that you will not have to live in anxious anticipation of what we will ask and how much you will have to know. Instead, we will provide weekly discussion questions, lectures, essays, and concepts we feel that you should know as a result of having taken this course. You will assure us of that learning and receive your grade for the questions and concepts about which you choose to write and talk with us. In addition, you will find detailed explanations and examples on our grading policies in the first week's reading.

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Week 6: Week of October 5, 2003

  • Topic:Strain Theory

  • Preparatory Readings:
    • Williams and McShane. Criminology Theory. chapter by Merton
    • Pollock. Criminal Women. ch. 5
    • optional -- Adler. 5

  • Lecture: in class

  • Concepts:

    • structural functionalism
    • anomie
    • normative consensus
    • the normality of crime
    • mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity
    • Merton's modes of adaptation

  • Discussion Questions:

    1. What did Durkheim mean by the "normality of crime?"

    2. Define Durkheim's concept of "anomie?"

    3. Briefly explain Merton's five modes of adaptation.

    4. What are some criticisms both for and against strain theory (Durkheim and Merton)? Why. What does Pollock say about strain theory? Do you agree or disagree with her assessment? Why.

  • Past Lectures and Related Links:

      Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

  • Some Recommended Activities:

    1. Show and Tell: Bring in a current event or find a program (other than those mentioned in the readings or lectures) showing how strain theory informs policy.

    2. Explore one of these topics:
      --- Does Headstart really work? Why.
      --- Is the American Dream alive and well today? Why. What kind of social programs address this orientation? [Adler, 2004:141]

      New Creative Project with CSUDH students! Check out Visual Essays Project. If interested, let me know.

    3. Recommended Readings

      Emile Durkheim. Suicide.

      Emile Durkheim. Division of Labor in Society.

      Robert Merton. Social Theory and Social Structure.

    Now, check the Minimum Requirements for Criminology, Week 6.

    Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2003.
    "Fair use" encouraged.