We are experiencing a historic crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic that will have far-reaching consequences for every aspect of our lives. What does this mean for criminal behavior? Early reports have shown that social isolation has reduced criminal activity, but skeptics question how long this pattern will last and raise concerns about crimes that occur outside of the public eye, such as domestic and family violence. What does this mean for crime control as police are also affected by exposure to the virus and their duties have shifted in response to social changes?
This course will examine how criminologists have studied major shocks to social systems and their effects on crime and disorder. It will consider natural disasters, like hurricanes, droughts, or diseases, as well as anthropogenic disasters like wars or environmental accidents. It will apply sociological theories of change and order to disasters in the U.S., such as Hurricane Katrina, as well as those from other countries, such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, in to understand how drastic events affect crime rates and social control. We will end the semester applying this knowledge to the global COVID-19 crisis.