Introduction to Criminal Behavior and Social Control

Using the criminological theories discussed in class, analyze the events and relationships in the film American Gangster. In your paper, you may discuss as many theories as you find relevant, but you must at least discuss three of the following: social bond theory, self-control theory, social disorganization theory, routine activities theory, strain theory, and social learning theory. It is not required, but if desired you may also apply concepts and ideas from the consensus or conflict perspectives, the life course perspective, or the techniques of neutralization. In your paper, you must demonstrate your knowledge and synthesis of the assigned reading, lectures and discussion. Remember to cite your sources, if appropriate. Drawing from outside sources is not required.

Your paper should be 4-6 pages in length and written as an essay. Papers should not be bullet-point outlines or Q&A texts. Your paper must be typed, double-spaced using 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. Your paper must be stapled before submission. Points will be deducted for papers not in accord with these formatting guidelines.
Your paper should be thoughtful, accurate, conceptually clear, carefully crafted, and well-organized. You should include the following: 1) introduction, 2) discussion of the criminological theories, 3) discussion of characters, events, and relationships in the film, 4) discussion of how the theories explain characters, events, and relationships in the film, and 5) a conclusion.
Your paper will be graded based on the following criteria: 1) structure and organization, 2) writing, and 3) analysis.
Structure and Organization:
– Introduction: strong thesis (concise statement of the argument).
– Argument should then be supported by a series of well-structured paragraphs that guides the reader through a progression of ideas.
– Each paragraph has a topic sentence and should contain one idea with a clear connection to the thesis statement.
– Coherence: appropriate transitions between paragraphs and sections should allow for a logical flow of the analysis.
– Conclusion.
– Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure.
– Clear and concise, using active verbs.
– Must cite sources as appropriate.

– Correct understanding of the theories applied.
– The theories should not be applied as disconnected entities but used collectively to explain different aspects of criminality within the film. You must be able to explain how the theories relate to each other when explaining the film.
– Apply the theories in an organized fashion.
– Only relevant details of the film should be described and the description should be incorporated coherently into the analysis.

Common Mistakes:
– Writing a 3-page plot description and analyzing the film in one page. You should simultaneously briefly summarize the plot while analyzing the film. You are being graded on your analysis and critical thinking skills and not the plot summary of the film.
– Describing the theories for the majority of the paper instead of using the theories to analyze the depictions of criminality in the film.
– Writing about the theories as disconnected entities instead of using them collectively to explain different aspects of criminality within the film. You must be able to explain how the theories relate to each other when explaining the film.

In sum, the goal of this paper is to allow you to exercise your critical thinking skills in your evaluation of how the theories relate to the criminality depicted in the film. Remember that the film is based on true events, providing you the perfect opportunity to apply your understanding and analysis of the theories of crime that you have learned in this course. We hope that you have some fun with your paper!

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