Social Structure theory (Durkheim’s theory of punishment is an example of social
Challenges the notion that crime is an expression of psychological or biological
traits—argue that crime is an expression of a particular social structure.
People living in the same environment behave in a similar and predictable
Strain theory –people with the same anomie have the same goals for example.
Similarly to social structure, people behave similar behaviours who live in the
same environment. People either retreat, rebel, or become ritualistic.
Social disorganization theory (Chicago School)
Cultural deviance theory
Social disorganization theory—a community becomes disorganized when there’s a
breakdown in the institutions of social control. These institutions can no longer carry out
their expected function which is to restrain people from committing criminal behaviours.
Institutions like family, schools, place of employment. Criminologists use indicators that
signal a breakdown in those institutions. They use 5 indicators. Income level, high
employment rates, high rates of school drop outs, actual physical characteristics of the
neighborhood (deteriorated housing), and the number of single parent households.
Conditions in urban environment affect crime rates—uses micro unit analysis,
uses the community.
Break down of institutions of social control
Indicators of social disorganization
Ecological factors: other indicators
Transience and mobility— asking the question is the neighborhood
constantly changing? Because residents are regularly moving in
and out. If there is we have a problem because when people are
moving in and out, people do not have the time to form
relationships with their neighbors and when people do not form the
relationships, this tends to block any attempt to find common ground and solve common problems in the neighborhood and to
establish common goals
Neighbourhood income level—deteriorated housing, looking at the
lack of essential services
Shaw and McKay: Chicago School
Unit of analysis: American city (Chicago) – American sociological positivism
(scientific study) –they mapped the crime rates onto different areas in the city so
we can see geographical distribution of social problems. Divides the city into
different zones on the basis of crime rates.
5 ecological zones in city: zones arranged as concentric rings –these 5 ringed
zones show us a stable pattern of criminal activity over 65 years and each zones
pattern of criminal activity is different from each zone. They mapped it on
different settlement patterns (where do people settle when they come to a
country), so there was a connection between crime maps.
IMAGE of circle
At the center there was a loop, nobody lived there. Zone 2 we get our first zone, and
they cll this zone a zone in transition. They found working class lower income
neighborhoods, and immigrants. The 2 zone, immigrants from the first zone moved to
zone 2 when they had more money. In the 3 zone it is lived by Chicago board
inhabitants. 4 is the most affluent.
Shaw and McKay –thought the settlement patterns were natural. They modeled their
sociological approach on a biological approach to understanding ecology.
Biological approach to understanding ecology: different
environmental/ecological conditions generate different city forms—we can
consider the city as a social organism. So that we can determine what the
different environmental conditions can generate the different city zones. When
they look at these ecological conditions, that facilitate the rise or decline in
certain species of natural organisms. Argue that like bird that flourish in the
wetlands, immigrants flourish in the lower income neighborhoods. Certain
species will flourish under certain environmental conditions, that’s why we see so many ducks in the wetlands for example. This had led to criticism that we no
longer think that immigrant settle patterns are natural, nor do we think that race is
natural instead, we see them as social and political constructions. They
constructed race in a particular way as opposed to discovering this natural
settlement pattern. Another implication of this approach, we found crime in the
low income neighborhoods, instead the affluent, and this makes us think that
crime is concentrated in inner city neighborhoods.
Crimes rates highest in slum areas
Transitional neighbourhoods (zones of transition) in the inner city . they are
transitional because people move in and out.
High population turnover— there leads to a breakdown in the
neighborhood as a effective unit of control and a breakdown in the
effectiveness of that neighborhood to transmit the moral standards of the
community to its inhabitants. Like Durkheim, shared moral values glue
members of the community together. This is when we can restrain people
from rule breaking
Immigrant families—immigrants were moving in and out. Immigrant
parents hold values from their home country, and their children hold
different values. Durkheim agrees, he links it to anomie. Being unsure of
what is wrong and right. These immigrant children are experiencing
Main policy implication: is this idea that as researchers we should have
policies that assimilate their old morals and morals of the country. They
need to be able to speak to their neighbors in order to enable for this to
Social consensus vs. racial and ethnic heterogeneity
Geographical model of anomie
Policy implications and limitations
Chicago Area Project –a simple solution to as disorganized community, we can
solve it by organizing the community and one way to organize it is to establish
social structures within that community. Lombroso would say the problem is the
individual. Here, the problem is the neighborhood, so we need to rehabilitate the neighborhood through providing it with neighborhood structures. It created
community structures in the slum areas so that it enhances social stability.
Recreation programs for children like summer camping.
Generalizability of their map – when people started looking at the map, not all
cities are well described by this map. Toronto cant be described by this map. Also
doesn’t apply to new York city instead, it has the reverse pattern, in Manhattan
people who can afford to live there are affluent so their city is fully affluent. But in
the Bronx and queens there is a more low income.
What did Shaw and McKay really map? They are mapping crime rates. But what
kind of data were they using? They were using police records to calculate
neighborhood crime rates. Problem with this is that police are biased, dark figure
etc. so they mapped differential policing records in the city. Affluent citys are
crime free because of police discretion. Police don’t detect crime in affluent cities.
Contemporary version of social disorganization theory: Broken Windows Theory
(Wilson and Kelin) –turns on the conceptual metaphor of broken windows.
What are broken windows?
Signs of neighbourhood disorder—signs that no one cares about the
neighborhood. Broken windows are associated with homeless people,
disorderly strangers to the community. Why are we focused on broken
windows? If we leave one broken window unchecked, many will follow.
They are suggesting that there is a causal connection between leaving
one window unattended, and more broken windows following that. How
does disorder cause crime? Because no one fixes it, the entire