Three new films for teachers of Crime and Deviance.

Back in the day we released Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance Vol. 1 with the intention of following it with a second volume (provisionally – and somewhat disarmingly – titled “Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance Vol. 2“).

While the intention always stood – hence this current post on the long-delayed second volume – we got a bit side-tracked out of Sociology and into Psychology for a few years, mainly because even though we’re firmly based in the UK, much of our distribution and sales occur in North America. And our main American distributor was crying-out (not literally) for content.

As someone with a Sociology background who’s never studied anything more than “Social Psychology” (and then only at the level of “Is Goffman a sociologist or psychologist?”) it was actually a pleasant surprise to discover a “new subject” but the intention was always to make further volumes of Crime and Deviance. And so it has come to pass.

Although we’re still making Psychology films we decided the time was finally right to write some scripts and film some film in order to produce Vol. 2.

So that’s what we did.

We’ve put together three films to introduce some major sociological theories of crime – Strain; Labelling; Space, Place and (Broken) Windows (Right Realism) – with the aim being to:

1. Introduce and explain key theoretical ideas.
2. Identify key strengths and weaknesses.
3. Provide contemporary illustrations, examples and applications.

Although each film is self-contained (and can be purchased separately On Demand) they are linked as a volume by the idea that to explain crime and criminality we need to look beyond a relatively simple “lives and characteristics of offenders” approach. In other words, we need to look at the bigger picture, to consider the role of social, cultural and environmental influences in the social construction of criminality. To this end, the three films are as follows:

1. Strain Theory explores both the historical and contemporary relevance of this theory to our understanding of the relationship between crime and consumption. The film looks at its origins as a radical critique of The American Dream, its more-recent applications in subcultural sociology and serves as a useful primer for an understanding of structuralist approaches to crime. In this respect the film covers:

• Merton’s Strain Theory
• Venkatesh: Gang Leader for A Day
• Strengths and limitations of Strain Theory
• Agnew and General Strain Theory
• Criminal subcultures and gangs
• Consumption and Crime.

2. Labelling Theory moves the focus of crime away from criminal action – who are the criminals, why do they commit crimes and how can they be controlled? – and onto the concept of social reaction: Why are some actions criminal, how are some individuals labelled as deviants and what are consequences of criminal labelling?

The film examines the distinction between primary and secondary deviance, considers a contemporary extension of the ideas underpinning labelling theory (restorative justice) and serves as a useful primer for understanding interactionist approaches to crime. In this respect the film covers:

• Primary deviance
• Secondary deviance
• Lemert and Cicoural
• Schur & Radical non-intervention
• Strengths and limitations of Labelling Theory
• Restorative justice.

3. Space, Place and (Broken) Windows introduces and examines the notion of environmental criminology – the idea social spaces are more than just a backdrop or scenery for our activities. On the contrary, different social spaces not only have their own rules of conduct but such rules provide cues as to how we’re expected to behave in particular situations and contexts. The film uses Zimbardo’s “Anonymity of Place” experiment as the backdrop to an understanding of Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Windows, considers recent empirical evidence in support of the Theory and serves as a useful primer for Right Realist approaches to crime. In this respect the film covers:

• Zimbardo’s “Anonymity of Place” Experiment
• Broken Windows
• Fixing Broken Windows
• Zero tolerance policing
• Giuliani and Bratton
• Strengths and Limitations of environmental criminology.

%d bloggers like this: