Crime and Criminal Behavior. Ethical Challenges and Questions on the Subject


Essay, 2013
14 Pages

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1.Criminological theory in the research process and how it predicts criminal behavior.

2.Criteria that must be meet in a study to prove that drug use causes crime.

3.Exploring how the media portrays women who kill using content analysis.

4.Possible ethical challenges in a study of a maximum security prison meditation program.

1.Criminological theory in the research process and how it predicts criminal behavior.

Discuss the role of criminological theory in the research process. Then select one criminological theory and discuss how it predicts criminal behavior. Be specific in your example.

Criminology is a scientific study of the correction and prevention of crime as well as why people commit crimes and the reasons for their behavior in certain situations. A theory is an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events (Merriam-Webster.com, 2013). Criminological theory, based on the two preceding definitions is a possible explanation of the relationship between criminal behavior and the characteristics of individuals in society. Criminological research is often conducted in an effort to scrutinize the empirical validity, or truth value of a criminological theory (Bachman & Schutt, 2013).

I would like to refer to the social disorganization theory as an example of how criminological theory predicts criminal behavior. Social disorganization, also called The Chicago School was developed by criminologists like Robert Sampson, Steven Raudenbush, Felton Earls, Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay, based on Ernest Burgess’ theory in 1967 (Agnew & Francis, 2011). The social disorganization theory was utilized in the research process when Sampson, Raudenbush and Earl’s conducted a study (called the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods) which argues that beyond being organized, as stated in the social disorganization theory, communities also have to be willing and able to engage in informal social control (Earls, 1997). Bachman and Schutt state that one of the most important requirements of theory is that it be testable (Bachman & Schutt, 2013).

In Sampson, Raudenbush and Earl’s study to test their argument, they collected data across a large number of neighborhoods (PHDCN). Some of the questions they asked were as follows: Could you count on your neighbors to intervene in certain kinds of delinquency, vandalism and fighting; Is this a close-knit neighborhood; Can people in this neighborhood be trusted? (Earls, 1997).

The central thesis of the social disorganization theory is that crime is caused in disorganized communities due to a breakdown of informal social controls and as a result criminal cultures emerge. Informal social control is simply the willingness of neighbors to intervene when witnessing wrongdoing (Cullen, Agnew 2011). Highly populated urban communities with low incomes tend to be commonalities in disorganized communities, this is considered concentrated disadvantage. The definition of concentrated disadvantage includes the lack of neighborhood trust and support (Cullen, Agnew 2011). The social disorganization theory also says that the disorganized communities lack collective efficacy to fight crime and disorder. Collective efficacy is a form of social control; it is the process of activating social ties to achieve a desired outcome, the desired outcome is a safe organized neighborhood.

As a child, I was able to observe social disorganization in the projects. Before I continue, I would like to reference Sampson’s concept of contextual/neighborhood effect, as well, because the impoverished neighborhood that I lived in greatly influenced negative outcomes (Rousseau, 2013). The criminal behavior that was ever present in my community as a child was accurately predicted by the social disorganization theory. Domestic violence was rampant. Parents forced children into sexual acts in order to get drugs. There were fights, shootouts, robberies and gang rapes.

This activity usually took place while “neighbors” were present and aware but did not intervene. It was common to watch a crime take place and leave before the police could question anyone.

We have discussed the role of the social disorganization theory in the research process using the PHDCN study conducted by Sampson, Raudenbush and Earl as an example. We have discussed how the social disorganization theory predicted criminal behavior in my community as a child. I conclude that criminological theory is essential to the research process. Sampson, Raudenbush and Earl’s Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods study utilized the Social disorganization theory to predict criminal behavior.

Works Cited

Agnew, R., & Francis, C. (2011). Criminological Theory. New York: Oxford.

Bachman, & Schutt. (2013). The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. SAGE.

Earls, F. B. (1997, Mar). Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Retrieved from Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/PHDCN/

Mastrorilli, M. E. (13, 10 29). Boston University. Retrieved from Boston University : https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_group=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2FdisplayLearningUnit%3Fcourse_id%3D_10522_1%26content_id%3D_1446444_1%26framesetWrapped%3Dtrue

Merriam-Webster.com. (2013). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster.com: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

Robert J. Sampson, S. W. (1997, 08 15). Neighborhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy. Science Magazine, pp. Vol. 277 no. 5328 pp. 918-924 .

Rousseau, D. (2013, 10 7). Boston University compiled content. Retrieved from Boston University website: https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1332599-dt-content-rid-4023345_1/courses/13fallmetcj602_ol/week03/metcj602_W03T00_M0.htm

2. Criteria that must be meet in a study to prove that drug use causes crime.

A researcher is conducting a study that appears to link drug use with criminal behavior. What criteria must the researcher meet to prove that drug use causes crime?

There are two classifications of causation. There is the nomothetic perspective, which is more of a macro or generalized approach, and there is idiographic perspective, which is more of a micro or individualized approach. If a researcher were to conduct a study that appeared to link drug use and criminal behavior, he or she would likely be using a nomothetic approach. The researcher would have to meet the criteria required to prove causation.

Dr. Mastrorilli stated, “Science relies on empirical, or observable, evidence to support assertions. Scientific protocols insist that researchers follow methodical, rigorous rules for gathering evidence that ultimately leads to knowledge. Thus, it is considered a trustworthy way of knowing.” (Mastrorilli, 13). One of the crucial components of the scientific protocols that are in place is the requirement of the researcher to attain a causal explanation. Bachman and Schutt define a cause as an explanation for some characteristic, attitude or behavior of groups, individuals or entities (Bachman & Schutt, 2013). Before a researcher can claim to have achieved a causal explanation, he or she must meet three criteria. The three required criteria are as follows; 1. Empirical Association, which means that as one variable changes (a variable is a characteristic that can vary), so does the other (Mastrorilli, 13). 2. There has to be an appropriate time order, which is simply assuring that the cause comes before the effect (Mastrorilli, 13).

3. Finally nonspuriousness must be proven, which means that the relationship between the two variables is undeniably not a result of a third variable (Mastrorilli, 13).

In a research study linking drug use and criminal behavior, the researcher would have to prove that the as drug use is increased or decreased so is the criminal activity, thus proving empirical association. The second criteria that has to be met in order to claim causality is the appropriate time order. The researcher will have to prove that the drug use preceded the criminal activity. The final requirement that the searcher will have to meet would be to prove nonspuriousness. The researcher would have to somehow show that the criminal activity is solely the result of the drug use, not some extraneous variable.

While these are the only required criteria, the researcher could strengthen his or her argument by including a mechanism and or context. A mechanism is the means to creating a connection between the two variables. Depletion of resources would be a good mechanism that creates a connection between drug use and criminal activity, when a drug addict depletes his or her resources; they generally turn to crime in order to continue obtaining drugs. Dr. Mastrorilli defines context as being when “the outcome is part of a larger set of circumstances”. Stating the contextual effect between drug use and criminal activity would strengthen the researchers’ argument but it is not a requirement. For example, Bachman and Schutt refer to “Anderson’s (1990) field research in a poor urban community’s narrative account of how drug addiction can result in a downward slide into residential instability and crime” (Bachman & Schutt, 2013). The context would be the poor urban communities’ higher crime rate as a result of drug use, when compared to affluent communities that have lower rates of crime and drug use.

We have reviewed the three essential criteria; empirical association, time order and nonspuriousness that must be met in order to prove causation, we also explored how adding a mechanism and context to the finding could strengthen the researchers argument, although they are not required. I conclude that if a researcher can meet the criteria as outlined above, the causation is effectively proven in his or her study.

Works Cited

Bachman, & Schutt. (2013). The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. SAGE.

Mastrorilli, M. E. (13, 10 29). Boston University. Retrieved from Boston University : https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_group=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2FdisplayLearningUnit%3Fcourse_id%3D_10522_1%26content_id%3D_1446444_1%26framesetWrapped%3Dtrue

3. Exploring how the media portrays women who kill using content analysis.

You are interested in investigating how the media portrays women who kill. You would like to use content analysis as your method of inquiry. What steps would you follow to complete your study?

In our compiled content for this class, Dr. Mastrorilli stated, “some analysts have argued that the media plays a big role in how the general public understands crime and justice policy, victimization and the fear of crime” (Mastrorilli, 13). This statement is extremely truthful, I find myself referring to the general public, myself included, as sheeple rather than people. We are quick to, without question, believe almost everything that is presented to us via the media. The media tells us how to view each other and what products we like. Television, newspapers, journal articles and internet news provide information that is often biased and sensationalized. We unconsciously accept the information that is provided to us, along with the opinion of the media outlet providing it as the truth, without critical thinking ever entering our minds. If we wanted to investigate the information provided to us by the media, a content analysis would be the most appropriate method of research to employ.

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Details

Title
Crime and Criminal Behavior. Ethical Challenges and Questions on the Subject
College
Boston University
Course
Research Methods CJ 703
Author
Year
2013
Pages
14
Catalog Number
V293350
ISBN (eBook)
9783656910183
ISBN (Book)
9783656910190
File size
421 KB
Language
English
Tags
crime, criminal, behavior, ethical, challenges, questions, subject
Quote paper
Louis Howell Jr (Author), 2013, Crime and Criminal Behavior. Ethical Challenges and Questions on the Subject, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/293350

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