The question of how societies maintain compliance with social norms and boundaries is a foundational concern within sociology. Crime is also important within sociology, both as a salient challenge to social control and a means through which societies affirm their values and norms. The Department of Sociology faculty has long addressed the sources and consequences of crime and social control for individuals and society. A number of the sociology faculty (Hirschfield and Martinez-Schuldt, along with Dahaghi beginning in Fall 2023) in this core cluster are also affiliated with the inter-disciplinary criminal justice program within the School of Arts and Sciences established in 2000.
The five faculty members that presently comprise the cluster in crime and social control represent a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches. However, they share a distinctly sociological orientation, situating crime, whether in the form of adult offending, delinquency, or violence, in relation to inequalities and differences along the lines of race/ethnicity, class, gender, or geography. These scholars also examine social institutions both as sources of crime and deviance and as agents of prevention, control and suppression. Institutions, practices, and subjects of particular interest to faculty include urban communities (Dinzey-Flores and Martinez-Schuldt), urban policy and design (Dinzey-Flores), schools (Hirschfield, Shepherd), families (Phillips), peer groups (Shepherd), law enforcement (Hirschfield and Martinez-Schuldt), segregation, immigration, and ethno-racial inequality (Dinzey-Flores, Martinez-Schuldt, and Phillips), and non-profit organizations (Martinez-Schuldt).
The Sociology faculty conducting research in this area have assembled or help manage unique community-level, state, or national data sets that provide opportunities for graduate students to engage in research on the intersection of various social control institutions (schools, neighborhoods, police, courts, and juvenile justice) and crime. Cluster members have taught a variety of graduate courses related to crime, social control, and punishment and supervised several dissertations pertaining to such topics. Our graduate students have had success in winning university and national awards and in obtaining excellent placements upon graduation. At the undergraduate level, we offer a number of dynamic courses in the area of crime and social control as well as the opportunity to minor in criminology. Students who minor in criminology are particularly likely to encounter faculty in this cluster both in sociology courses and in criminal justice courses.