Sociology of Violence

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SOC 234

       Course Name: Sociology of Violence

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Recommended: SOC 101

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines nature and causes of violence in context of contemporary American society. Content includes historical trends in violent behavior, social factors contributing to violence; types of violent behavior (interpersonal, collective, and organizational); strategies to prevent the expression of violence, and system of social control.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will:

  1. be able to discuss the current status of violence in America;
  2. understand the major theories regarding the cause of violence;
  3. understand how current social factors in American society contribute to violence;
  4. be able to analyze the different kinds of violence such as interpersonal, collective, and institutional violence;
  5. be able to evaluate various methods of prevention and social control of violence.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Trends in violence
    1. Historical background
    2. Extent and nature of violence in contemporary American society
  2. Theoretical perspectives on causes of violence
    1. Biological
    2. Psychological
    3. Sociological
      1. Socialization
      2. Subcultural
      3. Structural Strain
      4. Interactionist (Situational)
  3. Social perspectives on causes of violence
    1. Drugs
    2. Weapons
    3. Mass Media
    4. Mental disorders
  4. Kinds of Violence
    1. Interpersonal
      1. Homicide
      2. Aggravated assault
      3. Rape
      4. Robbery
    2. Domestic
      1. Wives
      2. Children
      3. Stalking
    3. Collective and Political
      1. Gangs
      2. Riots (Urban and Racial)
      3. Labor
      4. Terrorism
    4. Organizational
      1. Police
      2. Prisons
      3. Schools
  5. Prevention and Social Control of Violence

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods include lecture, discussion, collaborative assignments, and case studies that foster critical thinking about the subject.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

This course relies on the student's ability to read and understand college-level text material.  Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Representative texts may include:

Weiner, Zahn, et. al. (1997).  Violence in America:  Patterns, Causes, Public Policy.  Cambridge, MA:  International Thomson Publishing.

Kotlowitz, Alex (1992).  There Are No Children Here:  The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America.  New York, NY:  Anchor Publishing.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

The method of evaluation is at the discretion of the instructor within the guidelines provided by the college.

XI.   Other Course Information


Class policy on make-up exams, late assignments, etc.

Important dates

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.