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This assignment challenges you to think about everything you have learned this semester. You will evaluate a theory on several criteria that we have discussed during the semester.
There are two main section of the paper – the theoretical analysis and the policy implications. The theoretical analysis requires you to demonstrate a deep understanding of the theory. The policy implications require you to think through how the theory is (or can be) applied in society.
Grading: This paper is worth 100 points. Please review the grading rubric for additional details.
Before you Begin: To begin this assignment, you will need to choose a theory that will be the focus of your paper. Here is the list of theories from which you can choose( you may select another theory we discussed in class, please contact me):
1. Deterrence
2. Personality Theory
3. Social Disorganization
4. Merton’s Strain/Anomie
5. General Strain Theory
6. Akers’ Social Learning/Differential Reinforcement
7. Hirschi’s Social Control/Bond
8. Labeling
Review these theories and determine which one you would like to use for your paper. Then go to the discussion board for the theory critique and sign up for your theory. No more than five people can choose the same theory. You cannot complete this assignment until you have received approval for your theory selection. Any papers submitted without completing this step will receive a zero for the grade.
Part One: Theoretical analysis
You must explain a theory or theories covered in class and readings. Within your discussion, you must cite at least twoscholarly journal articles or books other than the class texts and reader (for a total of three sources). The theoretical section should have the following sub-components:
I. Underlying Assumptions. This section should be a discussion of the assumptions of human nature on which your theory is based. What does the author(s) of the theory say is the underlying cause of crime? In other words, why do people commit crimes or refrain from committing crime? (1 paragraph)
II. Central Theorist(s). Briefly tell the reader about the theorist(s) associated with this theory. (1 paragraph)
III. Main Concepts. What are the key concepts (key terms) in your theory? Include clear definitions of the concepts important to your theory. (Half page)
IV. Structure of the Theory. This section should discuss how the theory explains behavior. It is an explanation of the major cause(s) of crime by specifying the relationships between concepts. How do your key concepts work together to explain a criminal act? (Half page)
V. Scope of the Theory. What behaviors can this theory explain? How many different types of crimes can be explained? How many different populations? (2 paragraphs)
VI. Empirical Validity. What does research on this theory say? Use one scholarly source outside of the class text.(1 paragraph)
Part Two: Policy Implications
Based on the theory, you can determine how behavior should be addressed. Remember, if you know why crime occurs according to the theory, you also know how to prevent or stop it. (1 page)
I. You should address how effective formal (or informal) social control institutions are likely to reduce the criminal behavior you discuss. For example, would harsh punishments be more effective than rehabilitation to control thieves? What could we do informally as a society to address crime without involving the formal justice system? Is it even possible to “correct” individuals’ criminal behavior?
II. Briefly discuss the best role of police AND courts with regards to the criminal behavior. For example, should we make longer prison sentences and add more police to the streets?
III. How realistic is your plan? What are the pros and cons to your proposal? What would it take (time, money, resources) to make this change? Will you get public support for the change?

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