Step 1: Find an article

Use online searches (e.g., Google, or a search on a newspaper’s or newsmagazine’s website) to find an article about a criminal. There is just one requirement about the type of article you use:  The article must focus significant attention to WHY the criminal committed the crime. That’s because the theories we are studying all focus on trying to explain why people commit crimes. So, if you choose an article that does not discuss why (for example, an article that just describes how a crime was committed but not why the criminal did it), you won’t be able to do the assignment properly.

When you start looking, you may find that a lot of articles ignore this “why” question. You will probably have the most luck finding an appropriate article if you select famous criminals/crimes (e.g., famous mass murderers, school or workplace shooters, terrorists, mothers who murdered their children, etc.).

Step 2: Select your theories

Once you have read your selected article, look back at the theories in Chapter 7 that attempt to explain why people commit crimes. Select the TWO theories that you believe best explain the behavior of the criminal you have read about.

Choose from:

1.Merton’s structural theory
2.Subcultural explanations
3.Differential association theory
4.Labeling theory
5.Conflict theory
6.Control theory
7.Broken windows theory

Step 3: Write up your explanations and post in the discussion forum

Write a post for the “Crime Theories Practice” discussion forum that includes the following:

  1. A link to the article you read, so that others can read about your example if they wish to
  2. A few sentences stating the first theory you selected and explaining why/how that theory effectively explains the behavior you read about in your article
  3. A few sentences stating the second theory you selected and explaining why/how that theory effectively explains the behavior you read about in your article.
    For example, you might write something like “The first theory I chose to explain why Joe stole his friend’s CDs is differential association theory. This theory argues that people commit crimes after learning how to do so from the people around them. The article pointed out that Joe’s older brother had been involved in shoplifting and other petty theft while in high school, so Joe grew up in a social environment that encouraged him to commit crimes as well.”

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