Crime and Deviance - Environmental Theory

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Shaw and Mckay

Two American sociologists at Chicago University. They plotted the adresses of people who had committed crimes in the city. Their results showed that if you divided the city into concentric zones, each of the 5 zones they identified had different levels of crime. Zone 2 was nearest the city centre and this had the most crime; the levels of crime decreased as you went furthur away from the vity centre and into the suburbs.

The reason crime was higher in Zone 2 was

  • It was an area of transition with a high rate of population turnover
  • Recent immigrants into the city would move into zone 2 as it was the cheapest area to live
  • Over time some would become successful and move out to better areas and new immigrants would move in
  • The rate of high population turnover caused social disorganation
  • This meant that zone 2 wasn't as stable as other areas and has less sense of community
  • People did not know each other and did not care about their neighbours, the result was a higher crime rate

In later writings Shaw and Mckay developed cultural transmission theory. They argued that in the poorest and most socially dosirganised areas, crime becomes seen as the norm. In some families crime becomes a way of life, and those deviant values are passed on…


Alexandra Heath


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hannah hiddlestone


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