This course introduces students to the discipline of criminology. While criminology is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating a range of disciplines from sociology to biology, psychology, politics, social work, health, and law – our main emphasis in this course will largely be sociological. A sociological approach to crime adopts the view that we must question our common sense understanding about crime and its control and look at the complexities of crime at many levels. At one level, there is the immediate behavior, and we may ask “why does s/he do it?” Or we might ask, why do certain groups of people do it? This might point to various social forces that shape individuals’ and groups’ behavior. Yet we can, at another level, ask why, we as a society, define this behavior as a “problem” for which we have decided, as a collective, to deem it a legal “problem” (i.e., a crime). Do we construct law based on “nature?” Or based on our moral values? But whose moral values are reflected in the law?
Does the legal definition – crime – necessarily mean that the behavior is “really” beyond the boundaries of normalcy? That is, why are some behaviors considered “normal” at one time and place but defined as a “crime” in another? The consumption of opium was legal in Hong Kong and around the world at one point in time but later became a crime. What does this tell us about society and its values, politics, and economy? Crime, then, must be understood, in its historical, cultural, and social contexts.
Course learning outcomes
- Illustrate knowledge of how to think sociologically about the problem of crime and its control.
- Relate theories and concepts to daily experience.
- Apply knowledge to analysis of current events locally, regionally, and internationally.
- Produce original assessments of topics/issues in criminology.
- Develop presentation and collaboration skills through group-based work.
|Two short essays||30%|
|Tutorial participation and group project||30%|
Readings will include a series of journal articles and book chapters.
Adorjan, M., & Chui, W. H. (2014). Responding to youth crime in Hong Kong: Penal elitism, legitimacy and citizenship (Vol. 7). Routledge.
Abadinsky, H. (2016) Organized crime. 11th edition. Cengage.
Bernard, T. J., Snipes, J. B., & Gerould, A. L. (2016). Vold’s theoretical criminology. OUP.
Carrabine, E. et al. (2020) Criminology. A sociological introduction, 4th edition, Routledge.
Cohen, S. (1994) Visions of social control. Polity Press.
Chesney-Lind, M. and Morash, M. (eds.) (2017) Feminist theories of crime. Routledge.
Chui, E. W. H., & Lo, T. W. (Eds.). (2017). Understanding criminal justice in Hong Kong. Taylor & Francis.
Downes, D. and Rock, P. (2011) (6th edition) Understanding Deviance, OUP.
Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, Vintage.
Garland, D. (2018) Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies. Quid Pro Books.
Holdsworth, M. and Munn, C. (2022) Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong: Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Gaol. HKU Press.
Jones, C. with Vagg, J. (2007) Criminal Justice in Hong Kong. Routledge.
Liebling, A., Maruna, S., and McAra, L. (2017) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Sixth edition. Oxford Press.
Liu, J., Hebenton, B., & Jou, S. (2013). Handbook of Asian criminology. New York: Springer.
Walklate, S. (2018) Handbook of Victims and Victimology. 2nd edition. Routledge.
Course co-ordinator and teachers
Karen A Joe LaidlerProfessorResearch interests: Race and crime, Gender, Gangs and delinquency, Drugs
In this course, there were many guest speakers from different backgrounds such as NGOs, social workers and even criminologists from other countries. The course is not only about criminology theories, but allows us to understand how these theories can be applied to practice, which provides many important insights.
– Tina Lau, 4th year Sociology Major undergraduate student