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Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice

Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice

July 2005 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Why are there pronounced gender differences in rates of criminal victimization? Does gender influence the response of the criminal justice system and other parts of the community to offenders and to crime victims?  What part does gender play in the etiology of illegal activities committed by both males and females? Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice takes a contemporary look at such questions and considers areas that are often neglected in other books on gender, crime, and justice.  

In the last three decades, there has been an explosion of theory and related research relevant to gender, crime, and justice. Author Merry Morash, a well-known feminist scholar in the field of criminal justice, acquaints readers with key breakthroughs in criminological conceptualization and theories to explain the interplay between gender and both crime and justice. Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice pays special attention to race, ethnicity, and immigrant groups, and provides a unique comparative perspective.  

Key Features

  • Includes first-person accounts from crime victims, workers in the justice system, male lawbreakers, and women engaged in prostitution to give insight into a diversity of experiences and standpoints
  • Parallels the effects of gender and sexual orientation in laws, in patterns and causes of victimization, and in the responses of the justice system to both victims and offenders
  • Integrates international examples to place U.S. experiences in a comparative perspective and to show gender inequities on a worldwide scale
  • Provides numerous photos—unique for a text of this type—to portray people of all sorts in various regions of the world
  • Includes Web site recommendations for further exploration of chapter topics  

Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice is an ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on women and criminal justice. The book is also a valuable asset for gender courses in sociology and for women's studies programs.


1. Key Questions About Gender, Crime and Justice
Criteria used to select the theories that will be described

Postmodern themes

Brief overview

Key terms

Early theoretical work

Injustices in Prior Policies and Practices

Advances in Theory

Ways of Knowing about gender, crime and justice

Ways of Thinking about Gender, Crime, and Justice

Organization of the chapters

Key Terms

Review and Discussion

2. Gender and the Law

Laws against gender-relate victimization

Laws related to reproduction and child protection

Laws against prostitution

Pornography and the law

International law

Law prohibiting consensual sexual activity between same sex adults

Limits of the law


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to Explore

3. Gender-Related Victimization
Description of gender-related victimization

Fear and Everyday Violence

Naming forms of gender-related victimization

Denial of victimization

Explaining gender-related victimization

Immigration through marriage: The confluence of structural inequality, culture, and gender stereotypes

Victimized offenders

Effects of gender- and sexual orientation-related victimization


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to Explore

4. Social Movements and the Response to Victims of Gender-Related Crime
Activists and social movements

The Feminist Movement

Movement activities aimed at diverse populations

International priorities



Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to explore

5. The Influence of Context and Individual Differences on Responses to Gender - Related Victimization
Community characteristics and response to victims

Organizational context and response to victims

Individual-level influences on responses to victims

Recasting victims as offenders

Transforming the victim through court talk

The media

Victims exercising agency

Constraints on agency

Decisions about victims of gender-related crimes

Too much criminal justice system?


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to explore

6. Explanations of Illegal Behavior
Gender differences in amount and type of illegal behavior

Economic marginalization

Public policy and involvement in crime

Questions answered by macro-level explanations

The life course and pathways perspectives

Gender identity and crime

Biological explanations for females' and males' illegal behavior

Offenders exercising agency in choosing to break the law


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to explore

7. Gender and Response to Lawbreakers

Macro-level influences on responses to lawbreakers

Organizational context and response to people who break the law

Correctional and punitive responses

Individual Level Explanations of Responses to Offenders

Offenders' exercising agency: personal resources and decisions


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to explore

8. Advances and Challenges in Understanding Gender, Crime, and Justice
Overview of advances

Global perspective and globalization

The relevance of context


Agency and empowerment

Complex theories

Transgressing academic fields and theories within fields

Gender and sexual orientation

Research approaches

Final comments on justice

Public policy, legislation, and change


Key Terms

Review and Discussion

Websites to Explore

Key features
  • Authored by a well-known woman in the criminal justice profession
  • Focus is on contemporary advances in the study of women in criminal justice, doesn't overemphasize the historical view.
  • Coverage of race, ethnicity and immigrant groups are woven thru the book.
  • Comparative global coverage integrated at appropriate spots


Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.