Undergraduate | GRF-CCJ207 | 2024
Crime, Society and Culture
Course information for 2024 intakeView information for 2023 course intake
- Study method
- 100% online
- 100% online
- Start dates
- 26 Feb 2024,
- 26 Aug 2024,
- View 2023 dates
- Entry requirements
- Prior study needed
- 13 weeks
HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP available
Crime, Society and Culture
About this subject
After successfully completing this subject you should be able to:
- Demonstrate familiarity with and knowledge of the primary theories of sociological and other social theories of crime including the basic assumptions of these theories, key theorists and associated theories, and the socio-historical context of these theories
- Explain and employ sociological and social-scientific perspectives on research and knowledge production related to crime and justice, including functionalist, social conflict, and interactionist perspectives
- Apply criminological theories to social research on crime
- Critically analyse "common sense" notions of crime in our society
- Be able to understand and explain the concept of epistemology, the role of epistemology in social knowlege claims about crime and justice, and how different epistemologies shape present days views on crime and justice in Australia
- Introduction. What is crime? What is justice?
- Epistemology matters: knowledge about crime
- Early modern theories of crime and alternatives
- The social ecology of crime
- Crime, anomie, and strain
- Crime and socialisation
- Crime and Labelling
- Crime, capitalism, and legitimacy crises
- Crime and realism
- Feminist Criminology and the Queering of Criminology
- Decolonising criminology
- Cultural Criminology/Green Criminology
This subject was previously known as Sociology of Crime.
This subject introduces foundational and contemporary social theories of crime and justice. Theories are examined in their socio-historical context, with attention given to the role of theory in knowledge production about crime causation, criminal justice policy, and social views of justice.
Criminology is the social scientific study of crime – its causes, its effects and the manner in which societies define, understand and respond to criminal activity. In one sense or another, all societies have sought to control crime or deviance, and all cultures have explanations as to why and how people do bad or wicked things. Criminology, however, is a fairly new historical invention, its origins dating less than two hundred years. Yet even within this time, the social sciences have developed diverse and sometimes conflicting explanations, theories and approaches to understanding, explaining, and redressing crime. Psychology, political science, economics, and sociology all evidence distinct epistemological and methodological approaches to questions of what causes crime, how is crime defined, and how should we as a society respond to crime.
How we define crime is also intrinsically tied to how we collectively and individually define justice. This question is essential in understanding how societies formally and informally define and respond to crime. Formal responses include criminal and civil justice mechanisms tasked with several overlapping and sometimes competing aims such as retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and public safety. Informal responses include social norms and values, social movements, and collective social actions. In some cases there is strong alignment between formal and informal definitions and justice values in society, for example in the case of drink-driving which was once more widely tolerated but over time has become seen by the majority of the public and thus dealt with by policymakers as a serious offence. In other cases there is less alignment between formal and informal definitions and responses to crime, for example in current debates about how to best respond to illicit drug use – through a criminal justice approach, or through a public health approach that decriminalises or legalises use and distribution of some types of illicit drugs?
In this regard, theories of crime and justice are not abstracted from the daily experiences and problems in people’s lives. On the contrary, we all “theorise,” every day, in our own lives. When a friend is arrested for drink driving, we theorise how we should respond to them. Do we agree they should lose their license as a result? Do we think they should be required to undergo treatment? What should they have to do in order to take responsibility for this offence and be allowed to drive again? We theorise when we are victimised – why did someone harm us, and what should be done about it? We theorise when bad things happen to people and nothing is done about it.
All of this is “theorising,” where we draw from what we know or believe about “what works” and we compare or contrast that against what we know about the situation we are examining. One problem of course is that we are sometimes wrong – individually and collectively – and part of the role of the social sciences is to investigate and challenge “common sense” notions of crime and justice. This does not mean that the social sciences are above reproach, or that social science itself is infallible. On the contrary, as we will see, the social sciences have offered explanations of crime ranging from the plausible to the absurd. What the social sciences provide, however, is a set of rules or guidelines for how to make knowledge claims about crime beyond that of our own experiences or common sense, and how to test and retest these claims until they are more widely accepted or rejected in lieu of other explanations.
Another issue, however, is that people often have very different perspectives on what counts as justice. Social science can measure these attitudes and beliefs, but it is a relatively poor vehicle for making moral statements. Justice and injustice are subjective concepts, which often depend on people’s individual and collective social experiences. What social science does offer, however, is the possibility for us to transcend our own experiences and look at ourselves and our beliefs from the perspective of how others define and experience injustice. For more than a century these have been primary goals of sociology, anthropology, and other social sciences that seek to understand how people experience and make sense of the world, beyond testing hypotheses or measuring social phenomenon.
This class explores and investigates these big questions through the lens of social scientific theories and research on crime, justice, and society. As criminology is a multidisciplinary field of study, emphasis is given to sociological, socio-legal, social-psychological, philosophical, and other approaches. Emphasis is also given to exploring and understanding “the social construction of knowledge” – how knowledge about these questions is produced, what type of knowledge are privileged (or silenced) and why, and how such knowledge shapes people’s symbolic and material realities in concrete ways.
Students should not enrol in this subject if they have completed CCJ27 Sociology of Crime.
- Weekly Review of Readings (Part I) (15%)
- Online Quiz 1 (15%)
- Weekly Review of Readings (Part II) (25%)
- Online Quiz 2 (20%)
- Online Quiz 3 (25%)
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You should not enrol in this subject if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:
GRF-CCJ27 (Not currently available)
This is not an introductory subject, it is a second year subject. You must have a basic understanding of the first year criminology subjects. Students who have completed more than 2 OUA units (GPA 4.0+) and are planning on completing the Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice are strongly encouraged to enrol in the degree. Part of this process will involve registering your study plan with Griffith University, which will help to ensure that you are studying the required units.
No additional requirements
This is in the range of 10 to 12 hours of study each week.
Equivalent full time study load (EFTSL) is one way to calculate your study load. One (1.0) EFTSL is equivalent to a full-time study load for one year.
Find out more information on Commonwealth Loans to understand what this means to your eligibility for financial support.
What to study next?
Once you’ve completed this subject it can be credited towards one of the following courses
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