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Theoretical Theater: Criminological Theory at the Movies
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Criminological Theory

How to Cite

Shoenberger, Nicole. 2013. “Theoretical Theater: Criminological Theory at the Movies”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Sutherland (1947) stated that one of the main tenets of Criminology is understanding why individuals commit crime. Therefore, Criminological theory is one of the foundations of most introductory Criminology courses. Although this is the case, Criminological theory tends to be dense and abstract, which makes it difficult for students to understand. To...

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Subject Area(s):
Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This activity has a primary and secondary assignment. Both involve student assignments. Instructors can also choose to complete the alternative assignment if there is a time constraint in the primary activity.

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students are able to explore their understanding of Criminological Theory in and outside of the classroom
  2. Students gain the ability to critically assess and apply criminological theory to both fictional characters as well as everyday life.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. After the students watch a movie, they have to write a paper connecting the characters with key tenets of the major Criminological theories.
  2. After the movie students write a paper relating theory to the characters and have in-class discussion of their assessment. This is followed by an outside activity applying what they learn to newspaper articles about criminal behavior.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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