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Author of the Month: Brenda Vogel

Published: June 17, 2013

A Primer on Crime and Delinquency Theory

Brenda Vogel, professor, Criminal Justice

Appearing in a third edition from Wadsworth Publishing, A Primer on Crime and Delinquency Theory is Vogel’s 184-page examination of criminological theory from biological, psychological and sociological perspectives with co-author Robert Bohm.

“This thing we call crime is a moving target,” said Vogel, a member of the university since 2001 who was recently promoted to professor. “The behaviors that society chooses to define as crime change across time and place. Our students assume they know what a crime is, but this text challenges their understanding. This book explores fundamental assumptions about human nature and the nature of society. We cannot expect students to understand the etiology of crime until we explore these assumptions. If we believe people are fundamentally good, then it follows that crime is the result of negative social influences like neighborhood decay or poor parenting. If we believe people are fundamentally bad, then we must explore what society needs to do keep those basic tendencies from emerging. Part of the fun of using this text in class is that it challenges these assumptions.”

Vogel says that the text branches out from criminal justice to a number of related fields.

“There has been a great deal of recent research on the biological correlates of violent behavior,” she said. “Now that researchers are equipped with the technology to look at the structure and activity of the brain, we know that some people may have a biological propensity toward violence. Exactly how that propensity reveals itself, however, whether that means playing professional football or committing assault, depends on other factors. What differentiates the professional athlete from the local bully? That is where sociology and psychology come in.”

She feels her classroom experience, including full-time stints at CSUs Bakersfield and Fullerton, influenced the writing of her text. “Students like to be fed in manageable bites,” she said. “They don’t want to pile their forks with what they can’t swallow. But sometimes content doesn’t lend itself to that. This book is a primer. Its purpose is to convey meaning with every sentence. Students using yellow highlighters who read this book will end up with a yellow text. There’s nothing they can skip. My experience is that the students really appreciate that.”

A Primer on Crime and Delinquency Theory Book Cover

She encourages her potential readers to consider this text.

“If you want to understand the basics of criminological theory, then this book will give you what you need to know without wasting your time with fluff,” she said. Vogel has appointments in both criminal justice and the President’s Office, where she serves as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative. Before joining CSULB, she taught full-time at CSUs Bakersfield and Fullerton. She earned her B.S. and M.S. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Ph.D. from UC Irvine in 1996.