Jacob Erickson, who earned a Ph.D. in sociology this spring, delves into the minds of criminals to understand what makes them tick. In honor of his exceptional research, Erickson received a spring 2020 Graduate College Research Excellence Award, which recognizes graduate students for their outstanding research accomplishments as documented in their theses and dissertations.
“I am grateful for this award,” Erickson said. “I really appreciate that the faculty thought so highly of my research and the work I did on my dissertation.”
Erickson’s dissertation, “Before Drugs It’s Almost Like I Didn’t Exist: Contextualized Drug Narratives—Structure, Stories and Identity,” focuses on how drug users and dealers construct identities and engage in criminal behaviors to build and maintain their sense of self. He also has parallel interests in criminal subcultural codes, and has published works on the “code of the streets” and its influence on violent offending. It’s work he finds fascinating.
“Understanding why people do what they do, and the degree to how they view themselves, informs their behaviors. It’s a particularly exciting thing to read, learn and think about,” Erickson said. “Understanding why people do what they do as it relates to crime will provide avenues for prevention, intervention and desistance.”
Erickson’s major professor, Professor of Sociology Andrew Hochstetler, praises Erickson’s work ethic and his ability to find important questions for continued research in theoretical criminology.
“I expect that Jacob will gear his career toward book writing,” Hochstetler said. “I think he has some exciting contributions in mind about culture and crime, and also cultures of illicit drug use that could make solid contributions in shifting the field toward those offenders who are not on the extremes of addiction and criminality.”
Erickson will be an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro beginning this fall.