You are on page 1of 7

Taylor Preston

Preston 1

De Piero
Writing 2
30 November 2015

Crime and Punishment


Murder, robbery, school shootings. Crime is everywhere in the media and is portrayed
differently in every story. Criminal behavior is also analyzed and portrayed across different
disciplines and genres. While we know that sociology and psychology are two different
disciplines, we may ask ourselves, how do these scholars views of crime differ? What about the
difference between a scholar and a journalists point of view on the same subject? The scholarly
articles Linking Psychological Traits with Criminal Behavior: A Review, written by
Mohammad Kamaluddin et. al., in the field of psychology, and Cases of Indiscriminate Killing
and Society: Toward a Sociological Analysis of Curvatures in Contemporary Society, written
by Ryuzo Uchida in the discipline of sociology both explore the reasons why crime occurs.
Adrian Rain, in the Wall Street Journal article The Criminal Mind, focuses on causes of
criminal activity as well. The authors of all three articles criticize internal and external factors for
their roles in criminal activity, giving readers the impression that criminals are not actually
responsible for their wrongdoings.
Even across different disciplines and genres, similarities in writing style and structure can
be seen. The scholarly articles include many of the same conventions and rhetorical devices.
Each article uses high vocabulary and formal diction, establishing a formal tone. The articles also
follow a similar structure. They are lengthy Linking Psychological Traits is 32 pages long,

Preston 2
while Cases of Indiscriminate Killing in Society is 34 pages long. Headings are used to lay out
the authors argument in a logical, organized, and easy to read fashion. The headings break up
the articles into sections, starting with an abstract, following with an introduction and a
procedure, and closing with the results and discussion. These sections allow the reader to follow
the researchers process step-by-step, giving the reader more clarity. Scholarly articles and
magazine articles share certain similarities as well. All include many facts and statistics about
crime, followed by an explanation of the method used to obtain this information. Pinpointing the
cause of crime is complex, and style and structure help these authors accomplish this.
Although there are similarities across different genres when the topic is consistent,
scholarly articles and magazines are also dissimilar in many ways. Unlike the scholarly articles,
the magazine article is much shorter in length, being only a page, and contains visuals. It also
presents ideas in order of importance, rather than following a strict procedural structure. All three
of the articles are dissimilar from each other in other ways. The biggest and most obvious
difference between the three articles is the content. The psychologists explain different
psychological traits that people who commit violent crimes possess, because the disciple of
psychology is interested in the mentality of a criminal. The sociologist focuses on a specific
murder by a person and the verdict of their court case, because the discipline of sociology is
focused on the degree to which society impacts a persons decisions. The Wall Street Journal
article discusses the role of neuroscience and genetics in crime.
Despite the differences in content, none of the authors seem to blame the criminal outright
for the criminal activity that occurred. In the discipline of psychology, it was blamed on mental
illness and brain irregularities. In the discipline of sociology, it was blamed on outside factors

Preston 3
such as where the criminal grew up and how he was treated by peers. Furthermore, since the
author of the magazine article is not from a specific discipline, he has more freedom in his
argument. He draws on evidence from sociology and psychology, as well as other disciplines to
prove that a criminals actions are beyond their control.
Each author uses diction in a way that makes criminals seem like the victims instead of the
offenders. Like McCloud explains in Writing with Pictures, some specific concepts and
names can only be clearly expressed through words (30). The authors of Linking
Psychological Traits explain that their goal in discussing the psychological traits associated with
crime is to prevent the development or entrenchment of similar traits in vulnerable groups of
people such as children, adolescents and at-risk youths (Kamaluddin). The word vulnerable
suggests that a person most likely to become a criminal is defenseless and powerless, which
causes the reader to empathize with them. In the article from the sociological discipline, the
author calls the mass murderer in his research poor monster K multiple times, suggesting that
this criminal, Keto, was burdened with being a monster and couldn't help being one. He also
explains that one of the murderers reasons for committing such a violent crime is that
harassment continued in his virtual world and therefore [he] was driven to an act of violence
(Uchida 7). The term driven to implies that Keto had no control over his decision to commit
such a crime. It was harassment, an outside factor, that caused him to do it. In the magazine
article, the author explains that brain-imaging techniques are identifying physical deformations
and functional abnormalities that predispose some individuals to violence (Rain). The authors
choice of the word predispose suggests that certain individuals fall victim to irregular brain
formation, which is to blame for turning them into criminals before they are even aware of the

Preston 4
fact themselves.
As Carroll points out in Backpacks vs. Briefcases, audience can determine the type of
language used, the formality of the discourse, the medium or delivery of the rhetoric, and even
the types of reasons used to make the rhetors argument (49). Most people want to believe that
there is a logical reason behind everything in life. Although each source has a different intended
audience the sociological disciple, sociology students; the psychological disciple, psychology
students; and the magazine article, people with an average education interested in the subject
all three sources cater to this belief by offering explanations and answers as to why criminals are
the way they are. Students and average people alike are searching for someone, or something, to
blame for why horrible things happen. Although the main purpose of all three articles is to
inform, the underlying purpose is to convince the reader that there is a logical explanation for the
criminal mind. Placing the blame on factors that are outside of human control makes it easier to
cope and deal with criminals, especially ones who commit crimes like rape and murder.
Each author makes many different moves throughout that help shape their writing.
Moves can be defined as anything an author does that is specific to their writing style. In
Linking Psychological Traits, the author defines key terms throughout the paper. Even with an
audience familiar to the subject, defining terms can help the reader to fully process the
information. The author also captures authorial action by explaining that Gottfredson and Hirshi
had stressed that low self-control produced a number of negative effects which include failure in
activities, relationships, and social institutions (Kamaluddin). The author uses other
psychologists studies in addition his own to back his argument and further prove that multiple
different psychological issues may be at fault for criminal behavior.

Preston 5
In Cases of Indiscriminate Killing and Society, the author uses transitions when
beginning certain paragraphs. One example of this is when he writes, Firstly, the trend of
changes in the industrial structure and employment system exposed a problem of
differentiation (Uchida 12). Transitions improve the flow of ideas in any piece of writing.
Here, the author uses them to break up the information and give the story more structure. The
author also uses meta-commentary a few times. He begins sentences with phrases such as in
other words and that is. For example, the author writes, That is, if poor monster K were
indeed a product of economic inequality and psychological disorder originating from his social
space, the motives that the court offered as an explanation should have satisfied the victims
families and survivors (Uchida 8). This meta-commentary gives readers more of an explanation
following a complex idea. In this case, the author explains why the crime cannot be pinned on
these two sociological factors alone, and instead goes on to blame different societal issues for the
making of this criminal.
The author of the Wall Street Journal article uses transitions as well. For example, one of
his sentences begins with of course. This, again, makes the piece flow well. Another move the
author of the magazine article makes is using italics, as in the sentence, psychopaths know at a
cognitive level what is right and what is wrong, but they don't feel it (Rain). The italics put
emphasis on a particular word, which lets the reader know that this word is crucial to their
understanding of the sentence or the article as a whole. Here, the author emphasizes the idea that
psychopaths are not to blame for their actions because they do not actually know that what they
are doing is wrong.
Scholarly and non-academic genres alike have downfalls and limits, although in this case,

Preston 6
both have the same implications. The scholarly articles contain more information and offer a
more in-depth analysis of their topic. However, this type of information may be too complex or
complicated for an average person not associated with the particular discipline to understand. In
this sense, magazine articles contain constraints. Carroll explains that constraints limit the way
discourse is delivered or communicated (49). Magazines may leave out certain complex ideas in
order to cater to their audiences understanding. Scholarly articles can also be biased, because
they are written by an author from a certain discipline that only knows their own field of study.
A magazine article discusses more of the facts surrounding the subject, instead of facts strictly
related to a discipline. Because a scholarly article is limited in its accessibility, its information
may not be seen by a multitude of people. Likewise, because a magazine article is limited in
detail and extent, it may not convey all of the relevant information about the topic.
In discussing the idea of crime, each genre and disciple took a unique approach to the
issue. Despite the many dissimilarities between the three articles, the authors of each article used
rhetorical devices, certain moves, and common conventions to pin the atrocities of criminal
behavior on factors uncontrollable by the individual. The bottom line is that every discipline
wants to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps a positive affirmation or a hug are all
that is needed to ward off crime.

Works Cited
Carroll, Laura Bolin. Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis. Writing
Spaces: Readings on Writing. Vol. 1. N.p.: Parlor, n.d. 45-58. Print.
Kamaluddin, Mohammad, Nadiah Shariff, Azizah Othman, Khaidzir Ismail, and Geshina Saat.
Linking Psychological Traits with Criminal Behaviour: A Review. N.p., July 2015. Web. 30 Oct.
2015.
McCloud. Writing with Pictures. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Raine, Adriane. "The Criminal Mind." Editorial. The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street
Journal, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
Uchida, Ryuzo. Cases of Indiscriminate Killing and Society: Toward a Sociological Analysis of
Curvatures in Contemporary Society. The Author, 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.