Fall 2018                                                                                                       Professor Ross L. Matsueda


                                              SOCIOLOGY 401

                                  CRIME AND THE LIFE COURSE




This course examines crime and deviance within a life course framework.  How does crime evolve

across the life span?  What explains systematic patterns of crime over the life course?  A life course

framework views an individual’s life span as a set of trajectories (upward, downward, or flat paths

over time) and turning points (important life events, such as graduation, parenthood, marriage, work,

and incarceration) that alter the direction of trajectories.  We will examine early child behavior patterns,

juvenile delinquency, adult crime and incarceration over the life course.  We begin by discussing

important theories of deviance over the life course, including low self-control theory, informal control

theory, learning theories, and  rational choice theory.  We cover life stages, beginning with how

trajectories develop in early childhood, focusing on genetic predispositions, parent-child interactions,

and child development.  We discuss the transition to adolescence and the role of peers and schools in

the development of delinquent behavior.  We then examine the transition to adulthood, and key turning

points, such as parenthood, marriage, work, and incarceration. 




·         Provide you with an appreciation of the life course perspective in studying crime.

·         Provide you with an understanding of basic theories, concepts, and research methods used by life

course criminologists.

·         Show you the connection between life course theories and ideas and real-world phenomena.

·         Allow you to simulate the work of social scientists by applying theoretical tools to case studies and

other data.

·         Make you a critical consumer of media reports and politicians’ claims about crime over the life


·         Give you an opportunity to sharpen your critical and analytical skills through oral participation and

written assignments. 



Syllabus                           Sociology 401 Crime and the Life Course Syllabus


Website                            http://faculty.washington.edu/matsueda/courses/401D/web401d.htm


Time & Location              Tuesday, Thursday 3:30-4:50pm Loew Hall 222                                              


Office Hours                    Ross L. Matsueda          Fri 2-3pm   227 Savery Hall


Email Address:                    matsueda@uw.edu




Lecture Slides                 Lecture 1:  Introduction to the Course


                                                      Lecture 2:  Definition of Life Course and Crime


                                                      Lecture 3:  Age-Crime Curve and Trajectory Groups


                                                      Lecture 4:  Low Self-Control Theory


                                                      Lecture 5:  Age-Graded Informal Social Control Theory


                                                      Lecture 6:  Social Learning Theories


                                                      Lecture 7:  Symbolic Interactionism


                                                      Lecture 8:  Genetics and Families


                                                      Lecture 9: Marriage, Motherhood and Desistance


                                                      Lecture 10: Adulthood:  Work and Crime






Elder, Glenn H. 1985.  “Perspectives on the Life Course”. Pp. 23-48 in Life Course Dynamics:  Trajectories and Transitions, 1968-1980, edited by G.H. Elder. Ithaca: Cornell.


Caspi, Avshalom, Glen H. Elder, and Daryl J. Bem. 1987. “Moving Against the World:  Life-Course Patterns of Explosive Children.”  Developmental Psychology 23:308-313.


Gottfedson, Michael R., and Travis Hirschi. 1990. A General Theory of Crime.  Stanford, CA: Stanford, Chapter 5 (pp. 85-120).


Sampson, Robert J., and John H. Laub. 1993. Crime in the Making.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard, Chapter 1 pp. 6-24


Matsueda, Ross L. 2001. “Differential Association Theory,” In Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior, Vol.1, edited by Clifton D. Bryant.  New York:  Taylor and Francis.


Sellers, Christine S., and L. Thomas Winfree, Jr. 2010. “Ronald L. Akers:  Social Learning Theory.”  Pp. 21-29 in Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory, edited by F. T. Cullen, and P. Wilcox.  Beverly Hills:  Sage.


Matsueda, Ross L., and Karen Heimer. 1997. “A Symbolic Interactionist Theory of Role Transitions, Role Commitments, and Delinquency.”  Advances in Criminological Theory, Vol. 7, Developmental Theories of Crime and Delinquency, edited by Terence P. Thornberry.  New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.


Jonson, Cheryl Lero. 2010. Giordano, Peggy C., and Stephan A. Cernkovich:  Cognitive Transformation and Desistance.” Pp. 370-73 in Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory, edited by F. T. Cullen, and P. Wilcox.  Beverly Hills:  Sage


Sandra Scarr and Kathleen McCartney. 1983. “How People make their Own Environments:  A Theory of Genotype → Environment Effects.”  Child Development 54:424-435.


Grigoryeva, Maria. 2017. “Strategic Action or Self-Control?  Adolescent Information Management and Delinquency.”  Social Science Research 72:225-239.


Guo, Guang, Michael Roettger, and Tianji Cai.  2008. “The Integration of Genetic Propensities into Social Control Models of Delinquency and Violence among Male Youths.” American Sociological Review 73:543-568.


Caspi, Avshalolm, et al. 1993. “Unraveling Girls’ Delinquency:  Biological Dispositional, and Contextual Contributions to Adolescent Misbehavior.”  Developmental Psychology 1:19-30.


Uggen, Christopher, and Sara Wakefield. 2008.  “What Have we Learned from Longitudinal Studies of Work and Crime?”  Pp. 191-219 in The Long View of Crime:  A Synthesis of Longitudinal Research.  Edited by A. Liberman.  New York: Springer.


Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2005.  Promises I Can Keep:  Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, Chapters 1-2 & 6.


Laub, John H., and Robert J. Sampson.  2003. Shared Beginnings:  Divergent Lives:  Delinquent Boys to Age 70.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard.  Chapter 6.


Kreager, Derek A., Ross L. Matsueda, and Elena A. Erosheva. 2010. “Motherhood and Criminal Desistance in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods.”  Criminology 48:221-258.


Pettit, Becky and Bruce Western. 2004. “Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration.” American Sociological Review 69:151-69.


Maruna, Saad. 2001. Making Good:  How Ex-Conficts Reform and Rebuild their Lives, Chapters 4 and 5 (pp. 73-108).




Reading for Group Debate


Allen, John. 1977. Assault with a Deadly Weapon:  An Autobiography of a Street Criminal, Chapters 1-5 (pp. 1-78).


List of Members of Each Group



Paper Assignment


            Interview Case Study Paper Assignment


            Chapter on Interviewing


            Life History Calender


            Due Date:  December 6, 2018 in class


Writing & Tutoring 


          The Department of Sociology Writing Center


          The Clue Writing and Tutoring Center


          The Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity Instructional Center


          The Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity Writing Center


            The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.




Examinations        All exams will be objective, multiple choice questions. The final will be

                                cumulative, but emphasize the material after the second exam.


                                First Exam:  Thursday October 18, 2018 in Lecture

                                                      Distribution of Scores for First Exam


                                         Second Exam:  Tuesday, November 20 in Lecture

                                                      Distribution of Scores for Second Exam


                                         Final Exam:  Thursday, December 13 4:30-6:20pm in Loew Hall 222



Study Guides        Study Guide for the First Exam


                                         Study Guide for the Second Exam


                                         Study Guide for the Final Exam