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Confessions of a Dying Thief : NEW LINES IN CRIMINOLOGY - Darrell J. Steffensmeier

Confessions of a Dying Thief

NEW LINES IN CRIMINOLOGY

Paperback Published: 1st April 2005
ISBN: 9780202307619
Number Of Pages: 414

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*Recipient of the American Society of Criminology's 2006 Michael J. Hindelang Award for a book, published within the past three calendar years, that is "the most outstanding contribution to research in criminology."

*Nominated for the 2007 Outstanding Book Award of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Sam Goodman, was a long-time thief, fence, and quasi-legitimate businessman. He had a criminal career that spanned fifty years, beginning in his mid-teens and ending with his death when he was in his mid-sixties. Confessions of a Dying Thief is an in-depth ethnographic study of Sam and his world based on continuous contact with him for many years, on multiple interviews with his network of associates in crime and business, and on a series of interviews with him shortly before he died.

The book updates and greatly expands the case study of Sam Goodman's fencing activity found in Steffensmeier's award-winning 1986 book The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds. It combines Sam's colorful narrative accounts with substantive commentary by the authors to provide a more nuanced portrayal of criminal careers, illegal enterprise, and the broad landscape comprising the entity called "crime." To more fully understand pathways into and out of crime as well as the social organization of illegal enterprise, the authors propose an integrative learning-opportunity-commitment framework that combines differential association/social learning theory and an extended conceptualization of criminal opportunity with a three-fold theory of commitment to crime. This framework offers an integrated and more complete way of understanding mechanisms that underlie criminal offending and criminal careers. It also recognizes the complexity and scope of the criminal landscape and its embeddedness in the fabric of the larger society, including its criminal justice system.

Sam's illness and death are a sobering backdrop throughout the whole book. However, Confessions is not just a dying thief's intimate confessions. Rather, it is a rare and penetrating journey into the dynamics of criminal careers and the social organization of criminal enterprise, as experienced by a veteran thief and fence and his network of key associates.

"American criminology was born through a merger of theory and multiple methods that addressed the ecology of crime, the learning of criminal behavior, and the careers of law-breakers. The case study' was central to that development, filling in the qualitative personal details that illustrated the general theories that would continue to endure into the twenty-first century. Steffensmeier and Ulmer's "Confessions of a Dying Thief" should be added to the classic case studies that manage to bridge the gap between general ideas in sociological criminology and experiences of real individuals in a complex social world."
--Gary Jensen, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vanderbilt University

""Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise" by Darrell Steffensmeier and Jeffrey T. Ulmer is an ethnographic tour de force and will become an instant classic. An update of Steffensmeier's "The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds", "Confessions" takes us into nearly three decades of a life historya case study of Sam Goodman, a fence and professional thief. The authors skillfully relate these accounts to theory and method. This truly unique life course relationship between subject and researcher makes for a very informative and good read. It also contributes to criminological literature on career criminals on a very personal basis."
--Frank E. Hagan, director, Graduate Program in the Administration of Justice, Mercyhurst College

"Steffensemeier and Ulmer combine rich description and criminological imagination to illuminate the social organization of offending and the complexity of criminal careers. This important contribution offers both a fascinating tour of the underworld and revised understandings of crime across the life course. "Confessions of a Dying Thief" is a "must read" for criminologists and ideal for use in the classroom."
--Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

"Confessions of a Dying Thief completes one of the best case studies in criminology literature. It provides a fascinating, if sobering, first-hand account of one man's criminal career and much material for criminological theorizing. Students and scholars alike will find it a valuable resource."

--Steven E. Barkan, Contemporary Sociology

"American criminology was born through a merger of theory and multiple methods that addressed the ecology of crime, the learning of criminal behavior, and the careers of law-breakers. The 'case study' was central to that development, filling in the qualitative personal details that illustrated the general theories that would continue to endure into the twenty-first century. Steffensmeier and Ulmer's "Confessions of a Dying Thief" should be added to the classic case studies that manage to bridge the gap between general ideas in sociological criminology and experiences of real individuals in a complex social world."

--Gary Jensen, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vanderbilt University

""Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise" by Darrell Steffensmeier and Jeffrey T. Ulmer is an ethnographic tour de force and will become an instant classic. An update of Steffensmeier's "The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds," "Confessions" takes us into nearly three decades of a life history... a case study of Sam Goodman, a fence and professional thief. The authors skillfully relate these accounts to theory and method. This truly unique life course relationship between subject and researcher makes for a very informative and good read. It also contributes to criminological literature on career criminals on a very personal basis."

--Frank E. Hagan, director, Graduate Program in the Administration of Justice, Mercyhurst College

"Steffensemeier and Ulmer combine rich description and criminological imagination to illuminate the social organization of offending and the complexity of criminal careers. This important contribution offers both a fascinating tour of the underworld and revised understandings of crime across the life course. "Confessions of a Dying Thief" is a "must read" for criminologists and ideal for use in the classroom."

--Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati


"Confessions of a Dying Thief completes one of the best case studies in criminology literature. It provides a fascinating, if sobering, first-hand account of one man's criminal career and much material for criminological theorizing. Students and scholars alike will find it a valuable resource."

--Steven E. Barkan, Contemporary Sociology

"American criminology was born through a merger of theory and multiple methods that addressed the ecology of crime, the learning of criminal behavior, and the careers of law-breakers. The 'case study' was central to that development, filling in the qualitative personal details that illustrated the general theories that would continue to endure into the twenty-first century. Steffensmeier and Ulmer's Confessions of a Dying Thief should be added to the classic case studies that manage to bridge the gap between general ideas in sociological criminology and experiences of real individuals in a complex social world."

--Gary Jensen, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vanderbilt University

"Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise by Darrell Steffensmeier and Jeffrey T. Ulmer is an ethnographic tour de force and will become an instant classic. An update of Steffensmeier's The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds, Confessions takes us into nearly three decades of a life history... a case study of Sam Goodman, a fence and professional thief. The authors skillfully relate these accounts to theory and method. This truly unique life course relationship between subject and researcher makes for a very informative and good read. It also contributes to criminological literature on career criminals on a very personal basis."

--Frank E. Hagan, director, Graduate Program in the Administration of Justice, Mercyhurst College

"Steffensemeier and Ulmer combine rich description and criminological imagination to illuminate the social organization of offending and the complexity of criminal careers. This important contribution offers both a fascinating tour of the underworld and revised understandings of crime across the life course. Confessions of a Dying Thief is a "must read" for criminologists and ideal for use in the classroom."

--Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati


-Confessions of a Dying Thief completes one of the best case studies in criminology literature. It provides a fascinating, if sobering, first-hand account of one man's criminal career and much material for criminological theorizing. Students and scholars alike will find it a valuable resource.-

--Steven E. Barkan, Contemporary Sociology

-American criminology was born through a merger of theory and multiple methods that addressed the ecology of crime, the learning of criminal behavior, and the careers of law-breakers. The 'case study' was central to that development, filling in the qualitative personal details that illustrated the general theories that would continue to endure into the twenty-first century. Steffensmeier and Ulmer's Confessions of a Dying Thief should be added to the classic case studies that manage to bridge the gap between general ideas in sociological criminology and experiences of real individuals in a complex social world.-

--Gary Jensen, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vanderbilt University

-Confessions of a Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise by Darrell Steffensmeier and Jeffrey T. Ulmer is an ethnographic tour de force and will become an instant classic. An update of Steffensmeier's The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds, Confessions takes us into nearly three decades of a life history... a case study of Sam Goodman, a fence and professional thief. The authors skillfully relate these accounts to theory and method. This truly unique life course relationship between subject and researcher makes for a very informative and good read. It also contributes to criminological literature on career criminals on a very personal basis.-

--Frank E. Hagan, director, Graduate Program in the Administration of Justice, Mercyhurst College

-Steffensemeier and Ulmer combine rich description and criminological imagination to illuminate the social organization of offending and the complexity of criminal careers. This important contribution offers both a fascinating tour of the underworld and revised understandings of crime across the life course. Confessions of a Dying Thief is a -must read- for criminologists and ideal for use in the classroom.-

--Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

First Author's Prologuep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introducing Confessions
Confessions' Data and Contributionsp. 3
Sam Goodman: Homecoming and Farewellp. 13
Sam's Life Unfolds: Chronology and Turning Points
Conceptual Themes and Toolsp. 25
Sam's Narrative: Onset of Sam's Criminal Careerp. 41
Commentary: Doing Burglaryp. 53
Sam's Narrative: Sam's Burglary Career Escalatesp. 69
Commentary: Trading in Stolen Goodsp. 87
Sam's Narrative: Running a Fencing Businessp. 101
Commentary: Criminal Capital for Illegal Enterprisep. 125
Sam's Narrative: Skills, Character, and Connectionsp. 147
Commentary: "Moonlighting" Phase of Sam's Criminal Career: Shifting Commitments to Crime versus Legitimacyp. 171
Sam's Narrative: Continuity or Desistance After Sam's "Last Fall"?p. 183
Crime Pathways and Organization
Commentary: Social Organization of the Underworld: Stratification, Continuity, and Changep. 211
Sam's Narrative: Social Organization of Theft and Criminal Enterprisep. 231
Commentary: Organized Crime and Racketeeringp. 265
Sam's Narrative: Racketeering, Organized Crime, and the Mafiap. 279
Commentary: Ebbs and Flows of Criminal Careersp. 293
Sam's Narrative: Pathways Into and Out of Crimep. 313
Sam Takes Stock: Dealing with Dying
Commentary: Rewards and Rationales of Crime, and Images of Criminalsp. 347
Final Confessions: Sam Takes Stockp. 369
Epiloguep. 387
Referencesp. 389
Indexp. 397
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780202307619
ISBN-10: 0202307611
Series: NEW LINES IN CRIMINOLOGY
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 414
Published: 1st April 2005
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.64