1st Edition

Introductory Criminology
The Study of Risky Situations

ISBN 9781138668249
Published December 4, 2017 by Routledge
480 Pages 68 Color Illustrations

USD $79.95

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Book Description

Introductory Criminology: The Study of Risky Situations takes a unique and intuitive approach to teaching and learning criminology. Avoiding the fragmentation of ideas commonly found in criminology textbooks, Marcus Felson and Mary A. Eckert develop a more practical, readable structure that engages the reader and enhances their understanding of the material. Their descriptive categories, simultaneously broad and realistic, serve better than the usual philosophical categories, such as "positivism" and "classicalism," to stimulate students’ interest and critical thinking. Short chapters, each broken into 5–7 sections, describe situations in which crime is most likely to happen, and explain why they are risky and what society can and can’t do about crime. They create a framework to organize ideas and facts, and then link these categories to the leading theories developed by criminologists over the last 100 years. With this narrative to guide them, students remember the material beyond the final exam.

This fresh new text was created by two professors to address the main points they encounter in teaching their own criminology courses. Problems solved include: reluctant readers, aversion to abstract thinking, fear of theory, and boredom with laundry lists of disconnected ideas. Felson, a leader in criminology theory with a global reputation for innovative thinking, and Eckert, an experienced criminal justice researcher, are uniquely qualified to reframe criminology in a unified arc. By design, they offer abstractions that are useful and not overbearing; their prose is readable, and their concepts are easy to comprehend and remember. This new textbook challenges instructors to re-engage with theory and present the essence of criminological thought for adult learners, coaching students to grasp the concept before any label is attached and allowing them to emerge with deeper understanding of what each theory means and offers. Lean, with no filler or fluff like stock photos, Introductory Criminology includes the authors’ graphics to crystallize and expand concepts from the text.

Table of Contents


The Study of Risky Situations



Table of Contents

Detailed Contents

List of Figures, Tables, and Boxes

Our Teaching Framework


Getting Started

Criminality, crime and criminology

Why we have theory

Zeroing in on risky situations

Mixing the good and the bad

"Deviance" and risky situations

Risky public places

Moving forward

Key Terms and Names


Part 1. The Crime Challenge

Questions Addressed in Part 1


Unit 1.1 The Need to Control Disputes

Dispute escalation

Strangers, streets and disputes

Rudeness and crime on the job

Rudeness and neighborhood crime

Key Terms and Names in Unit 1.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 1.2 Containing Sexual Temptations

Sexual taboos

Conflict between rules and realities

Sexual license and tolerance

Sexual harassment

Key Terms and Names in Unit 1.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 1.3 Protecting Property

Informal processes to resolve property issues

Contracts and conflicts

Registrations and licenses assign criminal responsibility

Insurance takes some pressure off of the police

The shadow of the law

Key Terms and Names in Unit 1.3

Discussion Questions


Unit 1.4 Safeguarding Children

Mistreatment by other youths

Abuse by adults

Youths mistreating the rest of society

Adolescent substance abuse


Other status offenses

The 80-20 rule

Key Terms and Names in Unit 1.4

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 1

Main Points of Part 1


Part 2. Four Types of Crime Control

Key Terms and Names in Introducing Part 2

Questions Addressed in Part 2


Unit 2.1 Personal Controls

Before Birth

Genetic factors


Early Childhood

Moral teachings

Resisting temptations

The marshmallow experiment

A general theory of self-control

Pleasure now, harm later

Self-control is work

Variability in self-control

Key Terms and Names in Unit 2.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 2.2 Social Controls

Temptations vs. bonding

Teenagers in Japan vs. the Unites States

American parents also try to guide teenage situations

Routine activities

The crime triangle

Key Terms and Names in Unit 2.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 2.3 Situational Controls

Some interesting examples

Drinking on campus

The situational crime prevention strategy

The displacement hypothesis

Key Terms and Names in Unit 2.3

Discussion Questions


Unit 2.4 Formal Controls

Multiple steps

System complexities in the United States

Summarizing principles of formal criminal justice

What the public expects

De minimis

Procedural justice

Key terms and Names in Unit 2.4

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 2

Mains Points of Part 2

Part 3. Realistic Justice

Key Terms and Names in Introducing Part 3

Questions Addressed in Part 3


Unit 3.1 Assigning Responsibility

Sorting out accidental harm

A criminal state of mind

Juvenile justice tries another approach

Key Terms and Names in Unit 3.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 3.2 Realistic Policing

Authority and control

Police use of force

Ordinary police work

The decision to arrest

Reactions to police-citizen encounters

Procedural justice and the police

Service vs. crime reduction

Directed patrol and hot-spot policing

Do police reduce crime, or merely displace it?

Problem-oriented policing

Efforts to avoid arresting people

Key Terms and Names in Unit 3.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 3.3 Realistic Court Activity

Delay in court

Plea bargaining

Helpful organizations

Marrying organization with the justice system

Wrongful convictions

Key Terms and Names in Unit 3.3

Discussion Questions


Unit 3.4 Realistic Sanctions

Theory of punishment

Reality of punishment

Targeted deterrence

The overly-rational offender

Moral panics and the swinging pendulum

Key Terms and Names in Unit 3.4

Discussion Questions


Unit 3.5 Efforts and Realities

Jails and prisons in America

Staying in the community

Something short of prison

Too much of a good thing?

Evaluating program effectiveness

Reasonable expectations

Different focus in the community

Key Terms and Names Unit 3.5

Discussion Questions


Unit 3.6 Practical Crime Data

Police and justice system data

Victim surveys

Self-report surveys

Medical data

Business data

Future crime data: cybercrime, fraud and credit-card abuse

Key Terms and Names Unit 3.6

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 3

Key Terms and Names in Perspective

Main Points of Part 3


Part 4. Risky Ages

Introducing the age-crime curve

Key Terms and Names in Introducing Part 4

Questions Addressed in Part 4


Unit 4.1 The Teenage Brain

Uneven brain development

Sociability, coolness and sex

Known risks vs. unknown risks

Key Terms and Names in Unit 4.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 4.2 Teenage Volatility

Four convenient categories

The zigzags of adolescence

The smooth age-crime curve is just a summary

Key Terms and Names in Unit 4.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 4.3 Peer Influences

Cumulative peer effects

Research disappointments

Context-specific socialization and behavior

Key Terms and Names in Unit 4.3

Discussion Questions


Unit 4.4 Situational Inducements

Situational inducement theory

Techniques of neutralization

Aggressive peer pressure

Overcoming moral inhibitions

Diversity of substance abuse behaviors

Linking social learning to situational inducements

Key Terms and Names in Unit 4.4

Discussion Questions


Unit 4.5 Time with Peers

Teenage time-use changes from the early 1900s to the 1980s

Further teenage evasion of parental controls

Calculating time at risk

Delinquency and "hanging out"

School effects on the timing of delinquency

From "ordinary" delinquency to something worse

Key Terms and Names in Unit 4.5

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 4

Main Points of Part 4

Part 5. Overt Crime Areas

Key Terms and Names in Introducing Part 5

Questions Addressed in Part 5

Unit 5.1 Tough Neighborhoods

Disorganized places

Open-air drug markets

Outdoor drug sales produce more violence

Outdoor drug sales produce more arrests

Fear and public disorder

The effect of abandoned buildings

Chronic street nuisances

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 5.2 Cohesion Vs. Intimidation

Trying to strengthen neighborhoods


Selective trust

Inability to watch the street

Urban villages

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 5.3 Exclusion

Exclusion and the housing market

Exclusionary zoning

Gates and roadblocks

Excluding transients and homeless people


Ethnic heterogeneity impairing neighborhood action

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.3

Discussion Questions

Bibliography for Box 5a



Unit 5.4 Concentration

The Danish experiment

The Yonkers experiment

Public housing de-concentration

A negative experiment

Transience and crime

Concentrated disadvantage in perspective

The elevated age-violence curve

A few violent youths can ruin a neighborhood

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.4

Discussion Questions


Unit 5.5 Accommodation

Accommodating a tough neighborhood

Coping with crime (avoid)

The coded of the street (avert)

Sidling up to dangerous youths (adapt)

Helping offenders do crimes (assist)

Accommodating larger society

Aversive interpersonal experiences

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.5

Discussion Questions


Unit 5.6 The Pathway to Decay

The importance of disorder

The neighborhood ability to heal

Simple illustrations of infectious disorder

Disorder contributes to serious crime

Forces behind disorder and decline


The withdrawal process

Policing disorder

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.6

Discussion Questions


Unit 5.7 Mapping Crime

Crime maps from the Great Depression

Crime maps from mainframe computers

Maps get closer and closer to crime

A whole new image of "high crime zones"

Key Terms and Names in Unit 5.7

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 5

Main Points of Part 5

Key Terms and Names in Perspective to Part 5

Part 6. Risky Settings for Women

A female view of crime

Negative experiences for women

Practical policy analysis

The social-psychological viewpoint

Looking beyond the justice system

Key Terms in Introducing Part 6

Questions Addressed in Part 6


Unit 6.1 The Policy Challenge

The structure of fear

The shadow of rape

Too close for comfort

Five feminist policy options

Feminist media advocacy

Educating potential offenders

Protecting women by enhancing enforcement

Women’s risks are quite concentrated

Safer design for women

Women pioneers in safe design

Key Terms and Names in Unit 6.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 6.2 Risky Streets

The scope of street harassment

Exposure to street harassment

Population density and proximity

Women and the safe cities movement

Safer designs for women

Making walking routes safer for women

Making public transit safer for women

Forcible rape and environmental design

Key Terms and Names in Unit 6.2

Discussion Questions


Unit 6.3 Risky Homes

Security isn’t obvious

Busier and calmer streets

Neighboring houses

How open is good?

Street drinking

Key Terms and Names in Unit 6.3

Discussion Questions


Unit 6.4 Risky Nights

Feminism and the temperance movement

Female drinking patterns today

Mapping sexual danger at night

The journey home at night

Concentration of bar-related aggression

How bars can make things worse for women

Enforcement of existing liquor laws can make it better

The "last drink survey"

Potentially aggressive pedestrian flows

Switzerland’s grand experiment

Alcohol prices and taxes can make it better

Variety of alcohol restrictions

Key Terms and Names in Unit 6.4

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 6

Main Points of Part 6


Part 7. Crime Enhancers

Questions Addressed in Part 7

Unit 7.1 Crime in groups

Co-offending and criminal assistance

The co-offending age curve

Expansive criminal co-operation

Juvenile street gangs, rightly understood

The progression towards organized crime

Hierarchically-organized crime

Key Terms and Names in Unit 7.1

Discussion Questions


Unit 7.2 Crime via cyberspace

The blurred boundaries between people, data and things

The transformation of pornography



Cyberattacks on business

The reach of cybercrime

The transformation of white-collar crime

Key Terms and Names in Unit 7.2

Discussion Questions


Perspective on Part 7

Main Points in Part 7

Wrapping Up


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Marcus Felson is the originator of the routine activity approach and author of Crime and Everyday Life. He has also authored Crime and Nature, and he serves as a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He has a B.A. from the University of Chicago and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He has received the 2014 Honoris Causa from the Universidad Miguel Hernandez in Spain, and he has been given the Ronald Clarke Award by the Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis group and the Paul Tappan Award by the Western Society of Criminology. He has been a guest lecturer in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. He has applied routine activity thinking to many topics, including theft, violence, sexual abuse, white-collar crime, and corruption. Two books honoring Professor Felson’s work have been published, one in English and another in Spanish.

Mary A. Eckert has devoted an active career to applied research in criminal justice and program evaluation. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her B.A. is from the College of New Rochelle. Dr. Eckert served as Research Director of the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc., where she authored many research reports and guided that agency’s diverse research agenda, including work on pretrial risk assessment, court case processing, and evaluation of alternative-to-incarceration programs. She then served in the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, with a special focus on statistical evaluation of vehicle stops to assist the New Jersey State Police in reducing the potential for racial profiling. Her work has been recognized by the New York Association of Pretrial Service Agencies and the State of New Jersey. She has also served as an adjunct professor at New York University, Montclair State University, and Texas State University. Marcus Felson’s wife and life partner, this book is her second collaboration with her husband.


'For those looking for a fresh way to introduce students to our field, Marcus Felson and Mary Eckert have an appetizing alternative to offer. Writing in an accessible style, they bring many facts about crime together to reveal important realities. I particularly like their analysis of covert and overt crimes, and how they are affected by neighborhood poverty. They make criminology illuminating and thus interesting by exploring the visible and tangible factors that shape the nature of crime and its prevention. Indeed, I think that criminology as a field would be better off if more of us followed their lead by focusing less on ambiguous constructs and more on things we can see, touch, and change.'Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati

'From the perspective of the community college, the true intersection of our neighborhoods, Felson and Eckert have added another rich layer to criminology with risky situations. Students will be able to better retain what is taught. A solidly structured textbook that supports your pedagogy.'Randy S. Zimpfer, Jamestown Community College

'Marcus Felson and Mary Eckert have written a cutting-edge Criminology book that breaks through the often-stuffy presentation of seemingly endless and non-related criminology theories that leave students—and instructors—hoping just to complete the semester. With an innovative framework focusing on Risky Situations, readers will clearly understand and value the connection of criminological theory with real-world and personal experiences while acquiring practical ideas to understand, prevent, and respond to crime.'Ben Stickle, Middle Tennessee State University