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George Mason University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Sociology of Delinquency (SOCI 302)
Spring 2004

Instructor: Patricia A. Masters, Ph.D.
Office Hours: Monday, 3-4:15 PM; Tuesday and Thursday,1:45-2:45PM; or by appointment.
Office Location: Room B326, Robinson Hall
Home Office Phone: (703) 471-9830 (Though I have a phone in my GMU office, I am usually in class when I am on campus, so you can reach more easily using my home office phone, which has an answering machine. Please, do not call after 9:30 p.m.)

During this semester, we will look at the development of sociological explanations for juvenile delinquency, definitions of "delinquency," the experience of delinquents and their social circumstances, and policy approaches and outcomes.

Attendance Policy
Though the GMU Catalog states "absence alone is not reason for lowering a grade," in this class, failure to participate because of excessive absences will lead to your receiving a lower grade. Clearly, you cannot participate in a class which you do not attend; further, much of the material in this class will be covered in lectures, through videos, and in discussions, all of which provide a context for your reading. The policy for awarding participation points is as follows: You may miss up to four classes without losing points for participation. These absences may be due to family emergencies, illness, or “car trouble,” and you need not present any documentation or excuse for your absence. Beyond these absences, however, I will deduct points for participation. (It seems prudent not to use these absences “frivolously” so that if you run into difficulties late in the semester, you have no “free” absences left.) If you miss class, you are responsible for getting any materials that were passed out during your absence and getting notes from other students. Ten (10) points of your grade will be assessed on the basis of participation.

Course Requirements and Grading Criteria
Your grade will be based on four take-home assignments. The tests will cover the theoretical material and ethnographic treatments of delinquency that we read during the semester. Questions for the Decker and VanWinkle, Sullivan, and Miller books are attached to this syllabus.

Assignments will be weighted as follows: 20 points for Tests 1, 2, and 3: 25 points for Test 4; 15 points for participation, which includes your participation in group presentations and attendance. Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

100 points = A+
95-99 points = A
91-94 points = A-
88-90 points = B+
84-87 points = B
81-84 points = B-
77-80 points = C+
72-76 points = C
69-70 points = C-
67-69 points = D
66 or fewer points = F

Honor Code
George Mason University, like all Virginia universities and colleges, operates under an Honor System, the provisions of which are spelled out in the University Catalog.. As a faculty member, I am obligated to enforce this code, and any violations will result in an "F" for the course and possible academic suspension or dismissal. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements for citing sources of ideas and quotations that you use in your course work because lack of familiarity with "the rules" can lead to inadvertent plagiarism. Proper citation is also important to good scholarship. Finally, you are obligated to report any violations of the Honor Code by other students that you observe.

If at any time you have questions about the material we are covering or other concerns about the course, I am available to discuss them with you, either during my regular office hours, at a time that is mutually convenient outside of these hours, or on the phone.

Textbooks and Other Materials
Please bring your books to class with you so that we can refer to them during discussions. Also, note that the bookstore starts returning "excess" books to publishers shortly after the middle of the semester. So, if you wait to buy your books on an "as needed" or "when I can afford it" basis, you may not find copies still on the shelf. Usually, though not always, I do have an extra copy of each of the books that I place on reserve at the Johnson Center, but the time limit on checking them out is one day or less.

The books we will use this semester are:

  • Stuart H. Traub and Craig B. Little. 1999. Theories of Deviance. 5th edition. Itasca, IL: Peacock Publishers.
  • Scott H. Decker and Barrik Van Winkle. 1996. Life in the Gang: Family, Friends, and Violence. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. (Click here to read the Decker study questions)
  • Mercer L. Sullivan. 1989. "Getting Paid": Youth Crime and Work in the Inner City. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. (Click here to read the Sullivan study questions)
  • Jody Miller. 2001. One of the Guys: Girls, Gangs, and Gender. New York: Oxford University Press. (Click here to read the Miller study questions)
  • Patricia Hersch. 1999. A Tribe Apart: A Journey Into the Heart of American Adolescence. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Jack Katz. 1988. Seductions of Crime: Moral and Sensual Attractions in Doing Evil. New York: Basic Books. Chapters 1, 2, and 4. Multiple copies of Katz's book are on reserve at the Johnson Media Center. You must xerox copies of this material prior to coming to the class and bring your copies to class when we discuss this material.

Class Schedule and Reading Assignments
Under each date, you will find assigned readings. These are the readings for the upcoming class. In other words, we will begin discussion of the Traub and Little listed under January 20 on the 22 and so on. The readings are listed by week, because it is sometimes hard to predict the speed at which a class gets through the material. You should be on top of the reading for the week on Tuesday so that we can move ahead quickly.

January 20-22
Overview of the course, including theoretical paradigms and the juvenile justice system; structural approaches to delinquency
In Traub and Little's Theories of Deviance, read: Chapter I, Introduction; #3 Erickson; Chapter II, Introduction; #6 Thomas and Znaniecki; #7 Park; #8 Farris and Dunham; Chapter III, Introduction; #12 Merton; #13 Cloward.

January 27-29
Differential Association, Neutralization, and Social Control Approaches
In Traub and Little's Theories of Deviance, read: Chapter IV, Introduction; #16, Sutherland and Cressey; #18, Sykes and Matza; #10, Esbensen and Huizinga..

February 3-5
Control and Labeling TheoriesTheories
In Traub and Little's Theories of Deviance, read Chapter V, Introduction; #22, Hirschi ; #23, Gottfredson and Hirschi; #25, Laub and Sampson. Chapter VI, Introduction; #26, Tannenbaum; #27, Lemert; #28, Becker.
Test 1 distributed February 5, DUE DATE: February 17 in class.

February 10-12
The Experience of Delinquency: Video–“Eight Tray Gangster”
Read: Chapters 2 and 4 of Jack Katz's Seductions of Crime. Bring you copy of the Katz chapters to class with you At this class,. you will be assigned to a group to develop answers to questions on the Decker book which we will begin to discuss on February 17, so bring that book to class with you. You will remain with this group for discussions of the Sullivan and Miller books as well.

February 17-19
Read Chapters 1-6 in Decker and VanWinkle’s Life in the Gang which will de discussed this week. (Click here to read the Decker study questions)

February 24-26
Conclude Decker and VanWinkle, Bring Mercer Sullivan’s Getting Paid to class on the 22, so that we can organize our discussion groups for that book. At this class, I will divide the class into three groups. Each group will be assigned a neighborhood, e.g., LaBarrida, and will be responsible for leading the discussion of "their" neighborhood, its characteristics, and the prevailing crime patterns questions that will be distributed. During the latter part of the class, you will meet with your group to discuss presenting this book, which you should bring to class. (Click here to read the Sullivan study questions)

March 2-4
Read Chapters 1-5 in Getting Paid. We will then break into groups for discussion of the book, probably on Wednesday, so you should skim the remainder of the book by Wednesday.
Distribution of Test 2 on Decker and VanWinkle and Katz; DUE DATE is March 17 in class.

March 7-14: Spring Break

March 16-18
Finish discussion of Getting Paid. . . Bring your copy of Jody Miller’s One of the Guys to class with you so that you can work in groups to develop answers to questions. (Click here to read the Miller study questions)

March 23-25
Read Chapters 1-6 In One of the Guys. Your group will meet on November 10 to develop answers to the questions on this book

March 30-April 1
Read remaining Chapters of One of the Guys. Distribution of Test 3 on Sullivan and Miller: Due Date: April 15 in class.

April 6-8
Read Chapters 1-6 in Hersch.

April 13-15
Read Chapters 7-16 in Hersch

April 20-22
Read Chapters 16-22 in Hersch. In Traub and Little’s Theories of Deviance, read: Chapter viii, #44, Braithwaite

April 27-29
Distribution of Test 4 on April 27: DUE DATE: May 5 in my mailbox, Sociology Department.
Catch up week.

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