Environmental approaches to crime and deviance

A2 Sociology revision cards on environmental approaches to crime and deviance

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  • Created by: Jessica
  • Created on: 07-06-12 12:51

Urban crime

More crime happens in urban areas. The reasons for this are:

  • they have high rates of population turnover which means there is little chance of a community being formed and life is impersonal - people are not looking out for each other
  • high population turnover creates social disorganisation. Delinquent values are likely to develop and these are transmitted from generation to generation
  • there are more police which means crimes are more likely to be detected
  • these areas are more likely to be in poverty and people are more likely to experience social exclusion
  • people who are brought up in communities where many people are involved in crime, accept is as normal
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The Chicago School

Environmental approach to crime - first developed at Chicago Uni in the US

Shaw & McKay argued cities like Chicago were divided into zones radiating from the centre

Each zone had particular social and cultural neighbourhood characteristics

The zone of transition...

- Just outside the central business zone

- Had the highest levels of crime

- Run down, poor housing. Poorest people lived there

- High population turnover

- Little social stability

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Environmental concepts to explain crime and devian

social disorganisation - high population turnover means stable communities do not form. Established values & informal social control (e.g. pressure from neighbours) are weakened which means these crime deterrents cease to exist

cultural transmission - where there is social disorganisation, different delinquent values develop which results in subcultures forming. This is usually where young boys learn criminal traditions from older ones. Delinquent values pass from one generation to the next

differential association - Sutherland - people's behaviour is conditioned by reference to the behaviour of others around them. If it seems like everyone is committing crime than they are more likely to join in

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Criticisms of ecological theory

1) Tautological - explained by the same thing that it seeks to explain. Ecological theory says crime exists because crime exists but does not explain why crime happens in the first place

2) Does not explain why some people living in 'zones of transition' choose not to commit crime when they are living in the same conditions as those who do

3) Zones of transition are highly disorganised, yet subcultures still exist where criminal values are transmitted. There must be some level of organisation occuring for this to be possible

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