Urbanization and industrialization have created com- munities that have a variety of competing cultures,

Urbanization and industrialization have created com- munities that have a variety of competing cultures,

48 Chapter 4 • The Chicago School

Urbanization and industrialization have created com- munities that have a variety of competing cultures,
Urbanization and industrialization have created com- munities that have a variety of competing cultures,

thus breaking down older and more cohesive patterns of values.

4. This breakdown, or disorganization, of urban life has resulted in the basic institutions of family, friendship groups, and social groups becoming more impersonal.

5. As the values provided by these institutions become frag- mented, several opposing definitions about proper behav- ior arise and come into conflict. Continued disorganization makes the potential for conflict even more likely.

6. Deviant or criminal behavior generally occurs when one behaves according to definitions that conflict with those of the dominant culture.

7. Social disorganization and social pathology are most prevalent in the center-city area, decreasing with distance from that area.

8. Crime and delinquency are transmitted by frequent con- tact with criminal traditions that have developed over time in disorganized areas of the city.

epilogue: current Directions and Policy implications

current DirectionS

The work of the Chicago School, with its focus on cities, communities, and social organization, continued through the 1940s. After that time, two different approaches became dom- inant. Stressing individual deviance on one hand, and the effect of cultural and societal structures on the other, the majority of criminologists spent their time on the theories of labeling, control, and anomie.2 The community-based theo- ries of the Chicago School did not disappear, however. Disci- ples of the Chicago School continued their work. In the late 1970s, the tradition gained renewed attention. The interest can probably be attributed to the emergence of victimization data. Whatever the reason, the Chicago School is still with us, with ecological/social disorganization theory currently enjoy- ing a resurgence of popularity.

Some of the concerns of ecological criminology reap- peared in the 1970s under the headings of environmental design and geographical criminology (now also referred to as “crime pattern theory”). Drawing from Jane Jacobs’s ideas on urban renewal, C. Ray Jeffery suggested in 1969 that crime prevention should focus on changing the physical environment rather than on changing the offender (something he saw as much more difficult). Oscar Newman (1972), an architect, fur- ther elaborated on environmental design with his notion of defensible space. Newman’s idea was that any physical area would be better insulated against crime if those who live there recognize it as their territory and keep careful watch over the area. Because of the simplicity of the defensible space con- cept, the federal government adopted many of the architectural components into their regulations for constructing public housing. Moreover, the entire concept of environmental design generated many of today’s crime prevention programs and served as the impetus for the neighborhood watch program. While Jeffery (1971, 1976, 1977) decries the emphasis on hardware, he and Newman are responsible for what may have been the main approach to crime control and prevention throughout the 1970s and beyond. Paul and Pat Brantingham,

who were friends of Jeffery, developed the new forms of geo- graphic criminology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. That field has become very popular as GIS systems and analysis capabilities have proliferated from the 1990s to now. The creation and proliferation of crime analyst jobs in police departments is a product of the application of geographical criminology to crime control and prevention, in particular the crime pattern theory area.

The late 1970s saw a renewed interest in the ecological and social disorganization perspective; in fact, it may be accu- rate to say that it was “rediscovered,” as some authors clearly had little familiarity with the original Chicago School perspec- tive. Studies using data from the National Crime Victim Survey, coupled with an article by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson on “routine activities” (see Chapter 13), were instrumental in reviving research on the location of crime. Cohen (with others) followed two decades later with a complex theory called “evo- lutionary ecology theory.” Not only were ecological studies popular again, but criminologists also set out to extend the ideas of Shaw and McKay (see Bursik, 1988). One of the major new directions has focused on the stability of ecological areas over time. Applying the concept of criminal careers to ecologi- cal areas, Albert Reiss, Jr., (1981) and others began researching and writing about community crime careers. Spurred by exami- nations of urban renewal and crime rates, this new direction asks how changes inside and outside of urban areas affect their crime rate patterns. One of the directions this has taken is now referred to as the systemic model of social disorganization. Robert Bursik and Harold Grasmick (1993, 1996) are the pri- mary proponents of this approach. They describe three net- works (private, parochial, and public) as working together to not only create social disorganization but to produce variants of behavior depending on how they interact with each other. In particular, social disorganization has been tied to changes in family structures (especially disruption) and neighbor civility which, in turn, has been tied to changes in crime rates. The task now is to determine which natural social changes result in

2 It is not quite true to say that the Chicago School ideas fell into decline during the 1950s and 1960s. Two dominant theories, Albert Cohen’s subculture theory and Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin’s differential opportunity theory, attempted to integrate the concepts of social disorganization and cultural transmission with anomie theory. A review of these theories can be found in Chapter 7. In addition, labeling theory is an offshoot of the Chicago School’s symbolic interactionism and was the dominant theory of the 1960s. See Chapter 8 for an explanation of the relationship between symbolic interactionism and labeling theories.

Chapter 4 • The Chicago School 49

which kind of crime patterns (Bottoms & Wiles, 1986; Kobrin & Schuerman, 1982; Reiss, 1986; Schuerman & Kobrin, 1986). Others have combined environmental design, community eco- logical features, and criminal opportunities to explain rates of offending in areas that are identified as “hot spots” for crime.

In a perspective related to both environmental design and social disorganization, several criminologists (Hunter, 1978; Taylor & Gottfredson, 1986; Wilson & Kelling, 1982) have posited that physically deteriorated neighborhoods are related to social disinterest in the neighborhood (incivility). This, in turn, creates a greater climate of fear and crime, which then results in fewer social controls and a more deteriorated neigh- borhood. In a similar vein, Rodney Stark (1987) presents an ecological theory that he calls deviant places. Stark’s theory is contained in a detailed list of 30 propositions that capture much of the concept of incivility. Generally, he elaborates on the eco- logical theory claims of Shaw and McKay that varying neigh- borhood controls and structure result in varying crime rates. Moreover, Stark reiterates the Chicago School’s position that “kinds-of-places” explanations are more important in under- standing crime rates than “kinds-of-people” explanations. On the other hand, Barton and Gruner (2016) argue that gentrifica- tion acts to reduce social disorganization, which reintroduces the importance of “kinds-of-people.”

Other criminologists (Esbensen & Huizinga, 1990; Laub, 1983b; Sampson, 1985, 1986a, 1986b) have reported research results that led them to believe that rather than an either-or choice between people and places, a better explana- tion of crime rates combines both approaches. Robert Samp- son (2002a; Sampson, Morenoff, & Earls, 2000) reinforces the notion that neighborhoods and communities are themselves deserving of theoretical attention. His approach, now referred to as the social capital/collective efficacy model of social dis- organization, focuses on the effect disorganization has on trust and solidarity among neighbors (social capital) and their beliefs that they can control undesirable behaviors in the neighborhood (collective efficacy). These factors play out in a neighborhood’s intergenerational networks with the ability to pass down values, family advice, and expectations. One of the clear messages is that without a social theory of community, crime theories risk reducing their focus to individuals without recognizing larger forces at work. New research in Chicago by Sampson suggests that old forms of social disorganization may no longer be applicable in some communities (1992, 2000, 2002b). For instance, Sampson’s (2008) research on immi- grant communities in Chicago fails to find the traditional immigrant–crime link and instead provides evidence that the presence of immigrants reduces crime, and especially violent crime, in areas where they live.

Today, sophisticated statistical analyses with advanced computer capabilities, geospatial software, and access to large government datasets have enhanced the work begun by the Chi- cago School. Research that once began with push pins pressed into crude paper maps of the city now utilizes complex ecologi- cal models that allow not only the correlation of many neigh- borhood and resident traits but the development of models that might predict future trends in social disorganization. A critical

new finding is that there may now be a difference in the rela- tionship between immigrants and neighborhoods. Under the old framework, immigrants were associated with higher crime rates. Sampson and others have found that immigrants may revitalize inner city neighborhoods and actually reduce violent crime rates. Ramey (2013) has complemented this work by adding that the expected relationship between immigrants and reduction of violent crime was contingent on both neighbor- hood and city contexts, especially the receptivity of those neighborhoods to specific racial/ethnic groups.

Policy iMPlicationS

The work of the Chicago School has been directly relevant to policies at the neighborhood and city level as well as statewide and nationally. Shaw and McKay, working for the state of Illi- nois’s Institute of Juvenile Research, implemented their theo- ries almost from the very beginning. As Ruth Kornhauser (1978), Charles Tittle (1983), and Robert Bursik (1984, 1986) have pointed out, Shaw and McKay felt that the critical prob- lem in social disorganization is the community’s inability to regulate itself. Their long-lasting Chicago Area Project attempted to reorganize neighborhoods and provide the social organization they felt was lacking. Because Shaw and McKay felt that renewal and reorganization had to come from within, they worked to get people in the neighborhoods to institute and oversee the changes. They did this by helping create commu- nity organizations and committees, offering workers who could teach political skills, and helping the community reach out to city hall. They assisted communities in gaining political power and establishing control of their neighborhoods. Neigh- borhoods were encouraged to clean up the environment, and workers helped juveniles in trouble with the authorities. The projects that came out of this approach often involved the con- struction of recreation facilities and areas for juveniles in a community. This general approach to delinquency prevention spread widely throughout the United States and still consti- tutes one of the most popular solutions to delinquency (and other social problems).

In a 1986 article, Albert Reiss discusses several forms that policies derived from ecological theories may take. Gener- ally, he notes that interventions focus on either the social struc- tures or the social controls in the community (1986, p. 23). Examples of such policies are those that intercede in juvenile peer groups to diminish their power and the establishment of housing regulations that distribute certain types of individuals throughout a complex, rather than grouping them. Reiss even suggests that public policies be questioned when they prevent or restrict a community from exercising control over itself. Of interest is his suggestion that impact reviews be required when proposed policies result in changes in social life, just as envi- ronmental impact reviews are now required before physical changes can take place. The idea is to produce policies that spend funds directly on programs run by neighborhood resi- dents themselves, and not outsiders. These programs would provide jobs, services, and strengthen ties among residents. Further, they would strengthen family preservation and ulti- mately increase neighborhood control.

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