Writer’s Choice

In this course, you will complete a research paper one of four possible theories within the field of Criminology. Throughout the course, you will submit portions of your paper to help you prepare for the submission of the final draft in week 7. This week, you are responsible for selecting one of the following theories and explaining why this theory is of interest to you. Your options for this assignment are Cultural Transmission Theory, Structural Strain Theory, Control Theory or Labeling Theory. You should submit 1 page with no less than three paragraphs with your topic selection.

As we progress through the term, you will be working towards your final paper which will be an essay, 3-5 pages (1,500 words minimum) in length, not including your cover page or works cited. Your paper should consider the historical foundations of the study of criminal behavior; and examine ways in which society responds to criminal behavior in terms of prevention and punishment. The paper should be written in APA format and have at least four sources, three of which should be sources not covered in the course. The essay should contain a title page and a reference page. You are not required to prepare an abstract for this assignment.
As a part of your paper, you should include “real” examples of your theory in action from your own observations of your life or others around you or you may use examples from books, movies or television shows that have interested you. You must give specific examples of what happened to make it fit your theory.
The question sets below are simply guidance to help you write your paper and analyze your examples. You may not be able to or wish to answer every question under your theory, they are simply there for guidance.
Cultural Transmission Theory- Based upon your example, consider the process by which the main subject becomes involved in deviant and criminal behavior: is the behavior the product of learning, operant conditioning, lack of containment, or failure of self control? Which theory do you believe best accounts for the subject’s thought process and actions? Do you see examples of learned techniques as well as learned motivations? Conclude by analyzing the agents of socialization- parents, media, peers, schools, etc.- that facilitated the cultural transmission. Is there any way to break the cycle from generation to generation?
Structural Strain Theory- Based upon your specific example, consider the socially-endorsed goals that the main subject(s) is seeking to achieve? Do you consider these goals normal and desirable? What specifically happened that interfered with the achievement of these goals? Using Merton’s theory of strain, determine whether the actions represent conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion; keep in mind that you might find a number of these modes of adaptation in any scenario or example, depending on the specific obstacles and circumstances. Conclude by determining if the criminal innovation and rebellion that resulted from the strain is understandable and should be excused, or so deviant that it should be prosecuted.
Control Theory- Consider Travis Hirschi’s Control Theory in the person in your example of scenario. Give specific examples of how this person(s) had bonds of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Which bonds are missing, weakened or broken, and what were the specific results for that character? If you were a policy-maker, what would you do to ensure that the crucial bonds that give control to teenager’s lives are not broken- and what can you do for those who lose control and resort to crime?
Labeling Theory- Based upon your specific example/scenario, consider the role of labeling in the social interaction and life choices of the person(s); give specific examples using discussions/dialogue and descriiptions of what happened to explain the labeling process and its repercussions on the person. Who were agents of socialization that labeled the person? In what way were they “significant others” or “Moral entrepreneurs”? Did you see examples of primary deviance which transformed into secondary deviance? Was the person an example of “self fulfilling prophecy?”

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