Graham C. Ousey and Matthew R. Lee
One of the most exciting developments in the field of criminology is the emergence of studies that seek to explain variation in crime rates across aggregate social communities. These studies have an underlying theoretical theme: crime rates across communities are strongly correlated with structural inequality, or the stratification of communities on several key socioeconomic dimensions. This article reviews the current state of knowledge on the link between structural inequality and crime rates across communities. Specifically, it looks at theory and research that examines whether and how structural inequality affects crime rates in macro-level social communities such as cities, metropolitan areas, counties, and neighborhoods. It also discusses the notion that dimensions of structural inequality increase crime rates by increasing criminal motivation among those individuals who directly experience deprivation, and that such inequality contributes to crime by creating community-level differences in the extent of collective informal social control.
Cody W. Telep and David Weisburd
Every research enterprise takes place in a context, political, economic, and technological context. So it is with policing research. This chapter begins by sketching out where the practice of policing is heading, and what we need to do differently, so as to arrive at a roughly envisioned future ethically and in good order. A police presence at all places at all times being impossible, the practical issue is where and when to place officers or their technological surrogates. The chapter considers optimized distribution of effort and resource, given the central aim of fairness in the distribution of crime harm. It illustrates current levels of inequality of victimization, and claims that reducing the current concentration at individual and area levels should be an explicit underpinning vision for policing. It also briefly reviews the relevant literature and its implications.
Tamara D. Madensen and John E. Eck
When asked whether they can predict where crime will occur, most police officers say no. However, most police officers can identify a particular neighborhood where one can possibly be mugged. In the first case, the police officers are asked about crime in general and in an unspecified area, for an undefined purpose. In the second case, they are asked about the risk of a specific crime in very small areas, for the purposes of prevention. Specificity is a key factor in crime prevention, and is evident in places which are very specific geographic locations. This article explores why crime levels are extraordinarily high in some places but low or totally absent in most places, and how place management accounts for this disparity. In particular, it reviews empirical studies and associated theory related to crime at places (that is, addresses, buildings, and land parcels) and the management of these locations. It also discusses extensions of routine activity theory, as well as displacement, diffusion of benefits, and neighborhood effects.
Charis E. Kubrin
Many of society's problems have historically been blamed on immigrants. Immigrants, for example, have been accused of stealing jobs from hard working native-born Americans or draining America's health care and educational resources. Perhaps most problematically, they have also been accused of being responsible for the increase in crime rates. These accusations are often based on false assumptions and stereotypes and have been challenged by a substantial body of evidence which consistently suggests that immigrants are less likely to engage in criminality compared with the native-born. This article examines some questions and unresolved issues in existing macro-level research on the link between immigration and crime. It considers the importance of testing theories on the immigration-crime nexus, emphasizes the need for more longitudinal research, and highlights data impediments that must be overcome before immigration and crime can be understood more fully.
Barbara D. Warner and Audrey C. Clubb
Since E. A. Ross's ( 1929) seminal work at the beginning of the twentieth century, social control has emerged as a central concept in American sociology. Recent research indicates that neighborhoods with high levels of informal social control have lower crime rates. This article reviews findings on the role of neighborhood social ties in providing informal social control and preventing crime, both theoretically and empirically. It discusses the important gaps in knowledge that are considered crucial in better understanding the role played by social ties in social control and crime prevention. The article first describes Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay's social disorganization theory and its extension, the systemic model of social disorganization. It then emphasizes the need to distinguish social disorganization theory from deterrence theory, highlighting the implications for models of justice and identifying areas for future research.
Cecilia Chouhy, Robert Agnew, and Francis T. Cullen
Social concern theory (SCT) states that individuals are naturally inclined to show concern for the welfare of others, desire close ties to others, follow certain moral intuitions, and conform to the behavior and views of others. SCT describes the implications of these inclinations for crime. This essay begins by discussing the conceptions of human nature in different crime theories. It then describes the propositions of SCT, with the major proposition being that individuals high in the elements of social concern are generally less likely to engage in crime. It next reviews the limited research on this proposition, followed by a discussion of the policy implications of SCT and directions for further research.
Pamela Wilcox and Kristin Swartz
This chapter reviews the more macrospatial tradition of community- or neighborhood-based theory and research, as this line of inquiry is a vital part of contemporary environmental criminology’s intellectual ancestry. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2.2 discusses the relationship between neighborhood social disorganization and crime according to early Chicago school scholars. Section 2.3 highlights the role of neighborhood-based systemic control on community rates of crime, while Section 2.4 discusses the influence of community-based collective efficacy. Section 2.5 considers the influences of ecologically rooted cognitive landscapes, street culture, and legal cynicism. Finally, Section 2.6 discusses the various ways in which neighborhoods provide “crime opportunity contexts”—and it is in this section that the overlap and compatibility between community-focused criminology and contemporary environmental criminology is most explicit.