Welcome to the ShortCutstv Blog

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

This is the part of the site we use to post anything we think might be of interest to teachers and students of Sociology and Psychology – from announcements about new Sociology, Psychology and Criminology films, to teaching and learning Notes, PowerPoints, web sites, software – just about anything that piques our interest, really.

At the time of writing we’re rapidly approaching 500 individual posts on the Blog, so we’ve included a range of functions (on the bar to the right) to help you find the stuff you want:

• Search Box: if you’re looking for something specific (it’s not very clever so try to Keep It Simple).
• Popular Tags: identifies the most popular keywords used in posts (the larger the word, the more posts there are about it).
• Popular Posts: identifies the post that have had the most views.
• Categories: allows you to filter posts by Sociology, Psychology, Simulations and Toolbox.

Finally, you can use the Subscribe box to be notified by email each time a new post appears on the Blog (we guarantee not to do anything with your email address other than send automatic notifications).

Rational Choice Theory | 1

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

This first of two posts on Rational Choice Theory (RCT) provides an overview of a key New Right theory whose central argument about criminal rationality underpins a range of later Right Realist explanations for crime.

Rational Choice Theory (RCT) is one of a group of theories – including Broken Windows and Routine Activities Theory – that applies ideas developed to explain economic behaviour – in particular the idea individuals are rational and self-interested – to the explanation of criminal behaviour. The theory reflects, as Wilson (1983) puts it, the idea that “some scholars, especially economists, believe that the decision to become a criminal can be explained in much the same way as we explain the decision to become a carpenter or to buy a car”.

Gary Becker

While ideas about individual self-interest and rational choices in economic behaviour are well-established, their application to crime and criminal motivations, initially through the work of economists such as Becker (1968), gives them a contemporary twist that can be outlined in the following way:

1. Offenders are not qualitatively different to non-offenders

There’s nothing in the sociological or psychological background of offenders that either causes or explains their offending. To take a simple example: while many poor, deprived, individuals commit crimes, many more from the same social background do not.

A key concept here is agency: the idea people make choices about their behaviour that are neither determined nor necessarily influenced by their social and / or psychological backgrounds. Rather, choices are made in the context of particular situations – particularly the opportunities that are available for the commission of crimes.


Teaching Timelines

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

A free, easy-to-use online Timeline creator that allows you to incorporate text, images and video.

Back-in-the-day, when I was still classroom teaching, one of the techniques I occasionally used was the Teaching Timeline, something I found particularly useful for Introductory Sociology (back when a “History of Sociological Thought” was mandatory) and, for some reason, Crime and Deviance.

For the latter I always found it useful to create a “Theory Timeline” that helped students understand when different criminological theories first appeared and, more-importantly, how they were connected to and influenced by each other.

A third type of Timeline – “Dead, White, European Men” – was one I used whenever I wanted to be a bit provocative and promote some discussion about whether or not sociology was basically just about the musings of the aforementioned White European Males who Are No-Longer-With-Us.

Usually on a Friday afternoon in the deep mid-winter.

For some reason.


The thinking behind Teaching Timelines was, somewhat unusually for me at this time, tied to the idea of anchorage. That is, an attempt to provide a structure for various ideas through a sense of time and place, such that students could understand how theories of crime, for example, developed, why and how they were criticised and what, if anything, came out of this process.

Back then, Teaching Timelines were created with pen and paper before being stuck to the wall (where they slid slowly and painfully to the floor, were ripped by carelessly passing bags and generally made to look a bit sad and dilapidated after a couple of months wear-and-tear). They were also, if I’m honest, a little-bit-crap in a “felt-tip pen plus a few stuck-on pictures” kind of way.

Right now, things are a little different because with something like Flippity you can create free, web-based, Timelines that incorporate text, graphics, pictures and video (or at least those hosted on YouTube – here’s a Sociology playlist and a Psychology playlist to get you started if you need it).

Creating A Timeline

Creating a Timeline is relatively simple – it’s just a matter of entering text – and any links to pictures and videos you want to incorporate – into a Google Docs template (you can find full instructions about how to access the template, enter data and the like, here if you need them).

To do this you’ll need to have a (free) Google Docs account (you can create one here if you don’t have one already).

While Teaching Timelines can, of course, be your own personal creation it’s also possible to turn them into an active-learning, co-operative, exercise involving your students finding relevant text, images and videos for you to add to the final Timeline.

Or not, as the case may be.

Global Connections Lesson Plans

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Although the focus of these lesson plans and student workbooks is on American culture it’s easy enough to substitute “America” for any other culture you want to cover…

Although I can’t remember exactly where I found these resources, they seem to be linked to some sort of international educational company / program (VIF) and they’re professionally produced to a high standard of both design and competence (there’s a focus – some might say obsession – with meeting various American educational Standards).

If you’re subject to these Standards the mapping of the materials is going to be very useful, but even if you’re not you should find something here that’s useful for your teaching – either because you’re seeking to understand something about “American Culture” or, as I’ve suggested, you want to apply the basic ideas contained in the lesson plans to some other culture of your choice.

Booklet 1: The US American Way

The first booklet “examines the identity and origin of U.S. Americans and how others in the world perceive U.S. Americans” through a range of suggested resources, web links and exercises. In addition, there are 3 specific lesson plans covering:

• The definition of and who is a U.S. American.
• The origin of U.S. culture.
• How Americans perceived globally.

Student Workbook: The US American Way

This contains a variety of exercises and activities related to the lesson plans contained in Booklet 1.

Booklet 2: Pop Culture

The second booklet “investigates the connectedness of the world’s people by examining components of pop culture and its effects on regions of the world” and, as with the first Booklet, begins with suggestions for resources, links and simple exercises.

The 3 lesson plans in this Booklet cover:

• The things, ideas, places and people that define popular culture.
• The impacts of American pop culture on other regions of the world.
• The global source of several American pop culture trends.

Student Workbook: Pop Culture

This has a variety of exercises and activities related to the lesson plans contained in Booklet 2.

Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance: Women and Crime

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

While the first film in the Gender and Crime series looked at the ideas of Gendering Crime (in every society males commit far more crimes than females) and masculinity as an explanation for greater male criminal involvement, this second film – once again built around interviews with Professor Sandra Walklate – focuses on women and crime (hence the title “Women and Crime”).

The first part identifies some reasons for the increase in female crime and criminality over the past 25 years (albeit from a very low base. Historically women commit far fewer crimes than men so even a relatively small increase in female crime results in quite large percentage increases). These include:

• Greater female freedoms
• Binge drinking
• Increased public domain participation

• Changing criminal justice practices
• Less judicial tolerance of female criminality
• Economic and demographic changes.

The second part looks briefly at the impact of 2nd wave feminist perspectives on criminology over the past 50 or so years, particularly in relation to issues of sexual and domestic violence. This part covers:

• Patriarchy
• Male power
• Sexual and domestic violence
• Empowering women
• Hidden deviance
• Expanding the criminological agenda.

Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance: Gendering the Criminal

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Professor Sandra Walklate talks about the relationship between gender and crime and explains how and why masculinity offers a partial, but not necessarily sufficient, explanation for the over-representation of young men in the crime statistics.

• Gender and crime
• Masculinity

• Femininity
• Gender socialisation
• Edgework (Lyng)
• Cultural expectations of masculinity
• Masculinity and the public domain
• Opportunity and opportunity structures
• Social construction of gender
• Female “double punishment”
• Masculinity and crime
• Unpacking masculinity
• Gangs and gang cultures

Left Realism

Friday, August 31st, 2018

In an earlier post I supplemented a PowerPoint visualisation of Left Realism’s “three-cornered approach” to understanding crime and deviance with a more-detailed explanation of how the approach generally works and revisiting this post to see if I could scavenge anything worth adding to the Crime and Deviance Channel made me think that displaying the text online probably wasn’t the most user-friendly thing to do.

Being a generally helpful kind of a guy, therefore, I thought it might be useful to reformat the Left Realism text as a pdf document.

So I did.

As you’ll see if you download the file, I haven’t changed any of the text – just reformatted it to make it a bit more-legible – but it may be that you and your students will find this format a little more flexible.

Or not.

As the case may be.

The Crime and Deviance Channel

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

The Crime and Deviance Channel now offers a wide range of free Text, PowerPoint, Audio and Video resources organised into 5 categories:

1. Theories
2. Social Distribution
3. Power and Control
4. Globalisation
5. Research Methods

Each category contains a mix of content:

Text materials range from complete pdf chapters to a variety of shorter “Update” materials (quizzes, research synopses, items “In the News”) related to key sociological theories, concepts, issues and methods.

PowerPoint resources range from single slides designed as a high-impact visual background to the explanation of key theories and concepts, to complete Presentations that can be used to introduce or illuminate a particular general theme.

Audio materials consist of 17 podcasts designed to provide background briefing material, talking points (comparing different theories for example), updates on new research and revision exercises.

Video resources generally consist of short clips (currently around 30 separate films ranging in length from 1 to several minutes) designed to illustrate key concepts, introduce new research and researchers and stimulate classroom-based thinking and discussion.

Risk: Ulrich Beck

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

If you want the concept of Risk clearly and concisely explained, who better to ask than the person who invented the idea?

So we did.

And this is what he had to say.

That’s about it really.

Oh. The clip’s only about a minute long.

Thank you.


The Sociological Detectives: Ch-Ch-Changing NRMs

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Another in the New Religious Movements series of PowerPoint Presentations, this uses the Sociological Detective format to investigate a “crime scene” to unearth various clues based on Eileen Barker’s observations about why NRM’s change over time.

The basic idea is that as each clue is unveiled it contributes towards an understanding of Movement change and once all the clues are revealed it should then be possible to link them to arrive at a general explanation for such changes.

While there’s nothing too sophisticated here, the Sociological Detective format plus the ability to reveal, focus on and discuss a single idea at a time might prove an interesting way to encourage students to reflect on and discuss changes in New Religious Movements.

If you need it, the Presentation contains a short video (about 90 seconds) of Barker talking about the recent development of NRM’s. You can use this clip as a piece of background information to sensitise your students to some of the ideas identified in the main Presentation. The clip is linked from YouTube (so you will need an active Internet connection to play it) rather than embedded in the Presentation to keep the PowerPoint file down to a reasonable size (around 6mb as opposed to around 125…).

Although I haven’t included one here, if you have a favourite NRM case study (from the Moonies through Scientology to Heaven’s Gate…) it could be easily integrated into the Presentation to provide an empirical background to Barker’s observations.

Participate Collections

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

If you’re Pining for Padlet now it’s started to charge and place restrictions on its free accounts, you might be looking for a new home for your shared resources.

If that’s the case (or even if it’s not) you could do worse than have a look at Participate Collections, a site where you can store resources and links – from pdf files and Word documents, through to video and web links.

Just create a free account and you’re ready to participate (pun sort-of intended)  by uploading or linking to resources. These can be organised into Collections – groups of related resources – that can be shared with anyone. You can also start different Collections, which is useful if you want to share stuff across a range of Units or Modules.

Once you start a Collection you get the option to connect and collaborate with other users to expand and enhance it. In other words, it’s easy for a range of collaborators – a teacher and their students, for example, to add resources to a common Collection. A further useful feature is the ability of collaborators to discuss the resources they’ve added.

How useful these additional options prove to be is up to you, but they do at least offer the possibility of collaborative work – between different teachers, between teachers and students and the like – if that’s a path you want to follow.