Short Papers

Short Papers

You MUST include citations for reading/lectures in your papers and you MUST include a reference page (this does not count in the 3-4 page length).   You will be drawing from reading and lectures for you papers, so you must include citations and references to show the reader where you got the ideas and to give credit to the authors for their work.  Please use APA style (American Psychological Association) for your citations and references in your papers PLEASE AVOID USING DIRECT QUOTES.  These are thought papers meant to show that you understand and can apply the topics from the course.  Filling a paper with quotes does not show your application of the material.  And more often than not, students who run into plagiarism issues get in trouble because they rely on too many direct quotes.  So, please PARAPHRASE the ideas, and don’t use a direct quote unless you feel it absolutely necessary.


You may material from outside the class, but it is not required.  If you rely on sources from outside the class reading/lectures, you must cite them and provide the full reference for the outside source.




Paper Topic 5 – Anomie and Strain

Seminar in Criminology


Instructions:  Please write a response to the following question.  Make sure to answer all parts of the question.  Your response should be based on the material from the lectures and reading.  Your response should be 3-4 pages in length, double spaced (times new roman, 12pt font, 1 inch margins).  Make sure answer all 3 parts.



Imagine that you are sharing a cab with Robert Merton.  During your cab ride, you go through “the bad part of town.”  A conversation ensues about what causes every city to have a “bad part of town” and what is responsible for crime and social problems in inner cities.

  • Using his theory of strain, how might Robert Merton explain crime in the bad part of town?  What would he say are the major reasons for crime in lower-class areas?

After driving a couple blocks, you stop and pick up 2 more passengers in the cab… Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay (they guys who developed social disorganization theory).  They immediately join your conversation.

  • Drawing from their theory, how do you think they would explain why crime is so much higher in lower class areas?
  • Do you think that these three men would agree or disagree about what causes crime in the slums?  In what ways would they agree or disagree?  In what ways do their arguments about the causes of crime in poor communities differ?  Could their ideas be combined or are they talking about different concepts and processes altogether?  Explain.

Reading Material

·        The textbook: Criminological Theory: Past and Present. Fifth edition by Cullen, Agnew and Wilcox

Topic 1 Readings:  Part 5 – Anomie/Strain Theories of Crime (Text); Merton (Text, CH13); Merton 1964; Rosenfeld and Messner (Text, CH15); Agnew (Text, CH 16)


Merton, Robert K. 1964. “Anomie, Anomia, and Social Interaction: Contexts of Deviant Behavior.” Pp. xii, 324 in Anomie and deviant behavior : a discussion and critique., edited by M.B. Clinard and American Sociological Association. [New York]: Free Press of Glencoe.









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