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Week 9 Textbook - Chicago School

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Simon Fraser University
Jay H

THE CHICAGO SCHOOL AND CULTURAL/SUB-CULTURAL THEORIES OF CRIME Introduction  Also known as the ecological perspective or theory of social disorganization  Assumes the environment people live in determines their behavior  Emphasis on differences in inner-city subcultures and other modern examples th  Evolved because the city at that time (19 century) need answers for its rising number of crimes and delinquency  Involves the transmission of cultural values to other peers, across generations  Cultural/sub-cultural perspective key to the model The School of Ecology and the Chicago School of Criminology  One of the most valid and generalizable theories  Its propositions can be applied to almost all cities in the world  Referred to as the Ecological School or the theory of social disorganization  Earliest examples of balancing theorizing with scientific analysis, policy/program implementations Cultural Context: Chicago in the 1800s and Early 1900s  19 century Chicago was the fastest growing city in the US  Population went from ~5000 (early 1800s) to more than 2 million by 1900  Massive rate of growth due to its geographical location o Landlocked until 1825 when the Erie Canal provided access to the Great Lakes region for shipping and migration of people o First US passenger train from mid-Atlantic city to central areas, US Midwest  Early to mid 1800s problems o No formal social agencies to handle urbanization o Early police duties included garbage collection, lost children o Communities responsible for solving own problems (crime)  Late 1800s o Population made up of people speaking different languages, did not share similar cultural values  Resulted in chaos and normlessness such as Durkheim had predicted when urbanization and industrialization happen too rapidly o Almost complete breakdown in social control  Appeared that gangs controlled the streets as much as any group 1 Ecological Principles in City Growth and Concentric Circles  Robert E. Park  Human behavior follow the basic principles of ecology that is applied to wildlife o Ecology – study of the dynamics and processes through which plants and animals interact with the environment o Darwinian theory – growth of cities follow a natural pattern and evolution  Cities represent a type of complex organism with a sense of unity composed of the interrelations among the citizens and groups in the city  NATURAL AREAS – all cities contain identifiable cluster where clusters had taken on a life or organic unity by itself o Cities have small neighbourhoods that take on an unique identity but all contribute to the whole makeup and identity of the city  Ex)Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem  New York City  Some areas may invade and dominate adjacent areas and the previous dominant area must relocate or die off – UBRAN SPRAWL o Ex) long time homeowners against the construction of malls, businesses, factories o Such development can devastate the informal controls as a result of invasion by a highly transicent group of consumers and residenst who do not have strong ties to the area o Leads to psychological indifferences towards the neighbourhood  Ernest W. Burgess  Proposed a theory of city grown in which cities seem as growing not only on the edges but from the inside outwards  Source of growth was in the center of the city o Growth of the inner city puts pressure on adjacent zones which grow into the next adjacent zones, etc. following the ecological principles of “succession” o Type of growth referred to as radial growth, beginning on the inside and rippling outward  Ex) water drop effect, domino effect  Specified the 5 pseudo distinctive natural areas in a constant state of flux due to growth, depicted as a set of concentric circles o Zone 1 – innermost circle  Central business district due to costs  Contains large business buildings, modern skyscrapers home to banks, courthouses, police headquarters, post offices, etc o Factory Zone 2  Most significant in terms of causing crime because it invaded previously stable Zone 2 residences o Zone 2 – zone in transition  Transition from residential to industrial  Most significantly subjected to the ecological principles: invasion, dominance, recession, succession  Subsequent criminological theorists focus on this area  Now-a-days, factory zones consist of rusted-out of demolished buildings  Subsidized or public housing prevalent in this area because people can’t afford to live elsewhere or were forced to live here o Zone 3  Workingmen’s homes  Modest houses and apartment buildings o Zone 4  Higher-priced family houses, expensive apartments o Zone 5  Suburban or commuter zone  Zones 3-5 less importance in terms of crime because of general rule: the farther a family could move out of the city, the better the neighbourhood was in terms of social organization and the lower rates of social ills  Driving into any US city now: Zone 5  Zone 4  Zone 3  Zone 2  Zone 1 Suburban wealth  homes and building starting to deteriorate in terms of value  abandoned factories  utopia of skyscrapers  Theory applies around the world  Cities grown in a natural way across time and place, abiding by the natural principles of ecology Shaw and McKay’s Theory of Social Disorganization  Also known as the Chicago School theory of criminology  Began study with an assumption that certain neighbourhoods in all cities have more crime than other parts of the city with most existing in Zone 2 o Due to invasion of factories  Neighbourhoods that have the highest rate of crime typically have at least 3 common problems: o Physical dilapidation, poverty, heterogeneity (high cultural mix)  Other common characteristics include: 3 o Transient population (people moving in and out), unemployment among the residents  Social ills are included as antecedent factors in the theoretical model  lead to breakdown in social organization  Predicted that the antecedents factors of poverty, heterogeneity, physical dilapidation leads to a state of social organization, crime and delinquency o Neighbourhoods that have the profile of high rates of poor, culturally mixed residents in a dilapidated area cannot come together to solve problems  Significant contribution – demonstration of the prevalence and frequency of various social ills tend to overlap with higher delinquency rates o Regardless of what social problem is measured, higher rates are always clustered in the zones of transition o Breakdown of informal social controls, children begin learning offending norms, leads delinquents to learn criminal activities from older youth  Exception to the model: The Gold Coast area among the northern coast of Lake Michigan o Notably absent from the high rates of social problems even though it was geographically in Zone 2  Findings: o High delinquency rates occurred in areas where factories were invading residential district o Did not matter which ethnic group lived in Zone 2 as all groups had high delinquency rates during residency (except Asians)  But once most of the ethnic group moved out of Zone 2, the delinquency rate would decrease significantly  Rejects notion of social Darwinism as culture does not influence crime and delinquency but rather the criminogenic nature of the environment  If ethnic and race makes a difference, Zone 2 rates would have fluctuated depending on who lived there but the rates continued to be high from one group to the next o The zone determined the rates of delinquency 4 Model of Shaw and McKay’s Theory of Social Disorganization Poverty Heterogeneity Physical Dilapidation Social Disorganization Criminal Behavior High Mobility of Residents Other Social Ills (e.g. Infant Mortality, High Disease Rates) Reaction and Research on Social Disorganization Theory  Received enormous amount of attention from researchers  Virtually all research has supported Shaw and McKay’s model of social disorganization and the resulting high crime rates in neighbourhood that exhibit such deprived conditions o All cities that have an elevated highway supports model of crime in concentric circles  Criticisms: o Some argue they did not actually measure their primary construct, social disorganization o Formulation of social disorganization emphasized on the macro level of analysis o Does not attempt to explain why most youths in the worst areas do not become offenders o Does not explain why youths in Zone 5 choose to commit crime o Blatant neglect in proposing ways to ameliorate the most problematic source of criminality in zone 2  Theory resulted in one of the largest programs to date in attempting to reduce delinquency rates o Clifford Shaw – Chicago Area Project (CAP) o Neighbourhood centers in the most crime-ridden areas of Chicago o Offer activities for youths, establish ties between parents and officials  Overall conclusion – CAP typically fail to prevent criminal behavior Cultural and Sub-cultural Theories of Crime 5  Assume unique groups in society socialize their children to believe that certain activities that violate conventional law are good and positive ways to behavior  Some subcultures or isolated groups of individuals buy into different sets of norms than the conventional, middle class values Early Theoretical Developments and Research in Cultural/Sub-cultural Theory  Ferracuti and Wolfgang (1967) o Examined violent themes of a group of inner-city youth from Philadelphia o Concluded that violence is a culturally learned adaptation to deal with negative life circumstances and that learning such norms occurs in an environment that emphasizes violence over other options o Proposed that no subculture can be totally different from or totally in conflict with the society in which it is a part  Culture represents a distinct set of norms and values among an identifiable group of people, values that are summarily different from those of the mainstream culture  Subculture – only a pocket of individuals who may have a set of norms that deviate from conventional values  Walter Miller o Proposed that the entire lower class had its own cultural value system o Everyone in the lower class believed in and socialized the values of 6 focal concerns:  Fate – luck, disregards responsibility and accountability of one’s actions  Autonomy – value of independence from authority  Trouble – staying out of legal problems, getting in & out of personal difficulties  Toughness – maintaining reputation on the street  Excitement – engagement in activities that helps liven the mundane life  Smartness – “street smarts”, ability to con others  Elijiah Anderson o Focused on African Americans because Black Americans feel a sense of hopelessness, isolation, despair o Many believe in middle-class values but they have no value on the streets o “The Code of the Street” emphasis maintaining one’s reputation and demand for respect o Masculinity and control over one’s immediate environment are the only things a person can control 6 Criticisms of Cultural Theories of Crime  Find no large groups that blatantly deny the middle class norms of society  Miller’s model class focal concerns is not consistent across the entire lower class  Most adults in lower class attempt to socialize children to believe in conventional values and not the focal concerns  There may be small groups that have subcultural normative values, but that doesn’t constitute a completely separate culture in society  If there are subcultural groups in US society, they make up a very small percentage of the population, negating the cultural/sub-cultural perspective of criminality Policy Implications  Regarding social disorganization o The neighbourhoods that need organization are the ones most difficult to cultivate organization o Neighbourhoods that have high levels of organization have lower crimes because they police their belongings and neighbours  Have a reputation of “crime-free” to uphold o Empirical studies show that neighbourhood watch programs in high-crime areas are almost uniformly unsupportive in its ability to reduce crime  Actually increase the fear of crime in the area  Ex) CAP program o The more specific the goals regarding crime reduction, the more effective the implementation will be  Regarding cultural/sub-cultural o Programs attempt to build pro-social attitudes among high risk youths o Promoting programs that will help negate the anti-social cultural norms of individuals Conclusions  Lack of social disorganiation in broken down, dilapidated neighbourhoods is unable to contain delinquency and crime o Linked to ecological principles o Studies show that delinquency/crime is consistent with the model  Ability of cultural and sub-cultural theories to explain activity  Cultural values make a contribution to criminal behavior but that existence of an actual alternative culture i
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