Environmental Approaches: The Criminology of Place and Time

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Locating / Exploring Offenders


-       Shaw and McKay (1931)

  • Location of offenders in Chicago
  • Concentric zones – a way of dividing the city
  • Zone 2 – poor area where there was most offenders
  • Zone of transition – another name for zone 2
  • Social disorganisation – because of high turnover within the area there is no coherent norms and values which explained the high levels of offenders.
  • Cultural transmission theory – In zone 2, there became an acceptance that crime and deviance was acceptable.


-       Sutherland and Cressey (1966)

Introduced the concept of differential association – a theory that behaviour is learnt and justified by friends and family – If a person is exposed to crime and deviance, then people are more likely to commit crimes. There are 4 key factors that influence this:

  • 1)    Frequency – the number of times you are exposed to crime and deviance
  • 2)    Duration – the length you are exposed to crime and deviance
  • 3)    Priority – at what state in your life, if young then it is more likely to influential than older
  • 4)    Influence – The more influential the exposure the more it will take effect

This theory was a response to Shaw and McKay’s theory which was criticised for its vague nature.

-       Morris (1957)

  • Local councils place delinquent families together making areas ‘high crime areas’
  • An example of this can be seen in Croydon, London
  • There is no evidence that people in delinquent areas have a coherent set of values that are any different from others


-       Baldwin and Bottoms (1976)

  • Two estates separated by a duel carriageway
  • One had a 300% higher rate of offenders and 350% higher level of crime than the other
  • Researched ‘tipping’
  • Tipping – local authorities were in charge of where people were put, law abiding citizens could move away whereas anti-social families were all put together.

-       W.G.Skogan (1983)

  • USA study ‘fleshed out’ tipping
  • Found that social control breaks down with deterioration of an area
  • Control also breaks down from public use of alcohol and drugs
  • Situation of disorder:
  • 1) Undermines informal social control
  • 2) Generates worries about neighbourhood safety
  • 3) Causes law abiding people to move away


Social disorganisation – lack of shared values resulting in an increase in the number of offenders

Putnam – suggests that areas that have tipped lack close family and friendship and bonds (social capital) in order to feel integrated within the community

Wilson – Suggests that in areas that have tipped


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