The paper assignment is to explain a criminological theory that has been discussed in
this class, and then use the theory to explain a crime that has been reported in a
newspaper or magazine from the perspective of the theorist.
The crime must have occurred on or after April 3, 2018
The account of the crime (from the newspaper or magazine – can be an online
version) must name an individual/individuals who were arrested for committing the
crime. (It cannot be an article stating that police are “searching for suspects” in the
commission of a crime). The individuals do not need to have been convicted – just
arrested. (For the purposes of this assignment, assume that the named individual did
indeed commit the crime). The article should mention the date of the crime, the
suspect’s age, and where the crime was committed.
You may use ONLY ONE of the following theories:
Agnew’s General Strain
Sutherland’s Differential Association
Hirschi’s Social Bond
Gottfredson & Hirschi’s General Theory
If you have taken this class before, you may
Paper Grading Criteria
Papers will be graded on both content and quality of writing
1. Summary of the Crime (5 points):
Briefly describe the crime reported in the newspaper/magazine article. Remember, I do
not have the article that explains the crime, you must explain it in a manner that makes
sense. Keep a copy of the article. You will be graded on how well you have
summarized the information that is relevant to explaining the crime with your chosen
theory, and how well you have explained the crime. Should include date of the crime,
suspect’s name, age, and city/state where crime occurred.
If the suspect is a minor, and the name is not revealed, you may make up a name.
2. Explanation of the Theory (25 points):
Explain ONE of the above theories. You should explain the theory as if you are
teaching it to someone who has never heard of this theory before. You will be graded
on how well it appears that you understand the theory from your explanation, (did you
explain all the major points? Is your explanation correct? Are the stages of the theory
explained in the correct causal order?) In order to explain the theory you will need to
read more than the textbook summary of the theory. You are strongly encouraged to
read the original publication of the theory where available (this is noted on the
PowerPoint slides, and in the textbook), and use this as one of your sources. You must
consult (and cite) information about the theory from three (3) scholarly publications to
3. Use of three (3) Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Publications (6 points):
You must read and cite at least three scholarly publications to explain the theory you
have chosen (you may read and/or cite more if you wish).
You will have to search through the Library website for Articles and Books. See BB
menu button “Library-Find Journal Articles.” Search in peer-reviewed journals articles and/or books.
For the purpose of this paper, scholarly publications include any/all of the following: a) The original book (or a revised edition of the book) in which the theory was first explained (e.g. Shaw & McKay’s Social Disorganization theory was first explained in the book Juvenile delinquency and urban areas (1942). A revised edition of the book was printed in 1969: Shaw, C.R. & McKay, H.D. (1969). Juvenile delinquency and urban areas. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. b) Edited books containing reprints of the original article explaining the theory (e.g. Merton’s Anomie theory was first explained in a 1938 article “Social Structure and Anomie” which has been reprinted in the book: Carter, G.L. (1994). Empirical approaches to sociology: Classic and contemporary readings. New York, NY: Macmillan. c) Scholarly journals consisting of peer-reviewed articles discussing and/or testing the theory. Research articles that are testing your chosen theory will explain the theory at the beginning of the article; you may use this information to construct your explanation of the theory. Review “How to Read a Research Article” (pp. 27-29) in Tibbetts & Hemmens (2015). The elements of a research article that will be most useful to explaining the theory that you have chosen will be the a) introduction, and b) literature review. Do not focus on the methods and the results. See the BB menu button “Paper (Self) Help” for explanations of what “scholarly journal” and “peer-reviewed” means: . Note: Textbooks (including the required text for this course) are not considered scholarly publications for this assignment. Internet searches through Google or Yahoo etc. will not return acceptable sources. Wikipedia” is NOT a scholarly source. http://criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/ is NOT a scholarly source.
4. Parenthetical References/In-text citations (5 points):
Sources (for your information about the crime and the explanation of the theory) must
be referenced in the text of your paper using APA, 6
th ed. reference citation and
If you paraphrase you must still cite your source e.g. (Brown, Esbensen & Geis,
2010). Or Brown, Esbensen & Geis (2010) state….
(See the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for more
If you use a direct quote ( “…” ), what is written in the quotation marks must appear
EXACTLY as it does in the original source, and you must include the page number of the
original source in your citation e.g. (Brown, Esbensen & Geis, 2010, p. 3).
(See the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for more
Remember, changing only one or two of the words does not mean you no longer
have to use a citation. It is still, for all intended purposes, not your writing or
5. Use/application of the Theory to Explain the Crime (24 points):
Explain why the crime was committed from the point of view of the theorist(s). Use the
situational and individual characteristics of the crime you have selected to illustrate
each aspect/principle of the theory. If there are few details about the offender
provided in the account of the crime, you may infer plausible hypothetical details to
assist in your explanation. For example:
Agnew would explain that John Doe committed this crime because he was
experiencing strain caused by the removal of positively valued stimuli, one
of the possible sources of strain. Specifically, John had a good relationship with
his children, his children were the positively valued stimuli. When he and his
wife were divorced, his wife got custody of the children and he was only
permitted to see them on weekends, thus the positively valued stimuli were
removed. This was a source of strain that led to his experiencing a negative
affective state. Agnew argues that individuals experiencing strain are likely to
feel negative emotions such as anger, frustration, disappointment, depression, or
fear. John could potentially have been feeling many of these emotions. He may
have been angry with his wife for taking the children, angry with the judge who
awarded primary custody to his wife, frustrated with the situation, disappointed
and depressed that his marriage failed, and disappointed and depressed about
how infrequently he was permitted to spend time with his children… etc.
You will be graded on how well you have used situational and individual characteristics
of the crime as examples to illustrate how the theorist would explain why the crime was
6. Reference List (10 points):
References must include a list of ONLY the publications cited (not a bibliography),
beginning on a new page, in APA 6
th ed. format. The list should include the
newspaper/magazine article that provides the account of the crime, as well as all
scholarly publications that were cited to explain the theory. Pay close attention to all
APA format details including use of capitals, italics, periods, parentheses etc.
References should be listed in alphabetical order (by the last name of the first
author of the publication. DO NOT CHANGE THE ORDER OF THE AUTHORS.
7. Writing & Format (25 points)
(includes Tone, Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Organization, Length of the paper and
Use a FORMAL tone or 3rd person perspective when writing. Write from an objective
perspective. Do not use “I,” “you,” “we,” or “us” statements.
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