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Michael Ostrowsky - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Michael Ostrowsky

Professor of Sociology | Southern Utah University


Sociologist specializing in the topics of education, drug use, deviance, delinquency theories, and violent behavior


Dr. Michael Ostrowsky is an associate professor of sociology at Southern Utah University. His research focuses on crime, criminology theory, violent behavior, drug use, and self-esteem.

Dr. Ostrowsky has been teaching at SUU since 2007, and he continues to teach a wide-variety of courses, including: Crime and Society, Demography, Deviance, Environmental Sociology, Introduction to Sociology, Juvenile Delinquency, Modern Social Problems, Research Methods, Social Psychology, Sociology of Drugs, Sociology of Education, and Sociology of Sports.

Dr. Ostrowsky earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, a masters in sociology from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. in sociology from University at Albany, SUNY.



Michael Ostrowsky Publication





Industry Expertise (3)



Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise (17)

Social Psychology

Delinquency Theories, Trends and Issues

Sociology of Drugs

Violent Behavior in Sports Fans

Applied Research


Juvenile Delinquency

Self Esteem

Violent Behavior



Drug Abuse

Sociology of Sports

Alcohol Use and Violent Behavior

Marijuana Use and Violent Behavior

Sociology of Education

Trends in Crime

Education (3)

University of Albany, SUNY: Ph.D., Sociology

Florida Atlantic University: M.A., Sociology

University of Massachusetts at Amherst: B.A., Psychology

Affiliations (5)

  • North American Society for the Sociology of Sport
  • International Sociology of Sport Association
  • American Sociological Association
  • Pacific Sociological Association
  • American Society of Criminology

Media Appearances (1)

Sheriff Stanek's marijuana comments confuse correlation and causation

MinnPost  online


Actually, the relationship between marijuana and violent crime is still very much up in the air, scientifically speaking. That’s the clear message from a long but painstakingly thorough paper on the topic that was published in the Journal of Drug Education in 2011. In the paper, Southern Utah University sociologist Michael Ostrowky reviews the leading theories and key research on the relationship between marijuana use and aggressive/violent behavior.

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Articles (6)

“I Got Beat, and He Deserves to Win”: Image Repair Strategies Used by Athletes Who Lost Big Games

Project MUSE

Michael K. Ostrowsky, Kevin A. Stein


A number of researchers have analyzed the image repair strategies used by athletes who have committed deviant behavior. In stark contrast, little research has examined the image repair strategies used by athletes who have lost big games. Using Benoit’s (2015) theory of image repair, this exploratory study analyzes the image repair strategies used by 44 athletes who lost. The findings reveal that this group of athletes use an extensive amount of bolstering, defeasibility, and corrective action. The results also go beyond Benoit’s typology in a few noteworthy ways. In particular, these athletes showed deference toward their opponents and identified lessons learned. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research.

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Sports Fans, Alcohol Use, and Violent Behavior: A Sociological Review

Trauma, Violence and Abuse


This review makes four contributions to the sociological study of sports fans, alcohol use, and violent behavior. First, this article focuses explicitly on the relationship between alcohol use and violent behavior among sports fans. This is a worldwide social problem, yet it is quite understudied. Second, this article synthesizes the fragmented literature on alcohol use and violent behavior among sports fans. Third, this article identifies four broad sets of risk factors-sociocultural, event/venue, police, and crowd-that appear to be closely related to violent behavior among sports fans. Finally, to help explain the possible correlation between alcohol and violence among sports fans, this article draws upon the key understandings from the literature on alcohol and violence in wider society. The article concludes with suggestions for future research.

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Taco the Puppy is Super Sick: Student Excuses as a Unique Form of Apologia Rhetoric

Relevant Rhetoric

Kevin Stein and Michael Ostrowsky


College students use a plethora of excuses in their interactions with professors in order to accomplish​ various goals, such as securing more time to complete an assignment or to obtain a reprieve for an absence. But why? Simply put, some students attempt to limit their responsibility for the negative behaviors necessitating the excuse. Our focus is not on whether the excuse is true, but rather to understand the manner in which students construct messages so that they function to account for their undesirable classroom behaviors.

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Does Marijuana Use Lead to Aggression and Violent Behavior?

Journal of Drug Education


Marijuana use and violent behavior are causing widespread public concern. This article reviews theory and research on the relation between marijuana use and aggressive/violent behavior. It is evident from the inconsistent findings in the literature that the exact nature of the relation remains unclear. This article identifies several possible reasons for these contradictory findings and provides suggestions for future research. In particular, more research is needed on the different subtypes of aggressive behavior. Further research is also needed to elucidate the associations between gender, marijuana use, and violent behavior. Likewise, an important task for future research is to continue to tease apart the complex relations between gang involvement, marijuana use, and violent behavior. Longitudinal studies also warrant further investigation. Moreover, future research should control for several potentially confounding variables.

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Are violent people more or less likely to have low self-esteem or high self-esteem?

Aggression and Violent Behavior

Michael K. Ostrowsky


This article reviews and organizes relevant theory and research on the relation between self-esteem and violent behavior. The theoretical relation is currently being debated. One view suggests that low self-esteem leads to violent behavior, whereas another view suggests that violent behavior stems from high self-esteem.

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Explaining crime for a young adult population: An application of general strain theory

Journal of Criminal Justice

Michael K. Ostrowsky and Steven F. Messner


Most research informed by general strain theory (GST) concentrated on the young, particularly adolescents. Using data from the National Youth Survey (NYS) Wave 7, in which respondents were asked about their offending when they were ages twenty to twenty-nine, a model of young adult offending was estimated that incorporated variables reflecting strain, as well as control variables related to differential association and control theories and a lagged measure of offending to account for unmeasured dispositional factors. Results revealed that indicators of strain had significant effects on property and violent offending.

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Courses (9)

SOC 1010 Introduction to Sociology

Designed to give students a foundation for all future sociological studies. Develops an understanding of the role of social organization on human interaction. Introduces definitions, terms, and concepts used in sociological literature.

SOC 3150 Sociology of Drugs

This introduction to the key terms, concepts, and theoretical perspectives of the sociology of drugs and drug use will broaden students’ understanding of the meaning and impact of drugs on society.

SOC 3270 Sociology of Sports

An introduction to the key terms, concepts, and theoretical perspectives of the sociology of sports will broaden students’ understanding of the meaning and impact of sports on culture and society.

SOC 3300 Sociology of Education

This course analyzes the school as a social organization. Among topics considered are power and control in the school classroom organization and procedures and their relation to learning; roles of educators; and relations between school and community.

SOC 3350 Social Psychology

This course provides students with a systematic introduction to sociological social psychology. Both sociological and psychological approaches are considered, before specifically addressing the theoretical and empirical studies of symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, and postmodern social psychology.

SOC 3450 Applied Research Methods

This course provides students with a firm grasp of the quantitative and qualitative research methods commonly used in the social sciences, enables students to execute their own worthwhile research projects, and helps students be informed consumers of research.

SOC 3500 Deviance

This course is an exploration of social deviance as evidenced in subcultures in American society. It is designed to apply major criminological and deviance theories to modern day deviant groups, while contextually examining the construction of deviant identities in relation to mainstream values.

SOC 3610 Juvenile Delinquency

This course is an exploration of past and current delinquency theories, trends and issues. Topics included in this course are an extensive review of theory, female delinquency, gangs, the juvenile justice system, police and juveniles, the role of family, peers, schools, and drugs on delinquency and juvenile corrections today.

SOC 3700 Crime & Society

This course is a survey and exploration of crime including a review of classic and contemporary criminological theories, trends in crime, and a brief historical overview. Specific topics will include property crimes, violent crimes and hate crimes, white-collar crimes, organized crime and police discretion. The criminal justice system will be explored as a process, focusing on the U.S. correctional system today, the prison system, and alternatives to prison.