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Factor Affecting The Presence Of Crime In Inner Cities Of America

776 words - 3 pages

The presence of crime in the inner cities of America is the result of many different factors. Although it is impossible to explain the issue with one single theory, it is possible to recognize the characteristics within society that have traditionally been associated with crime. These include poor neighborhoods, weak family structures and high rates of unemployment. However, they cannot be used to explain overarching mechanisms of extremely high rates of American urban crime today. Social structures as well as cultural conditions play strong explanatory roles in describing the causes of crime in American cities. Some prominent social structural theories include social disorganization theory, strain theory, and cultural deviance theory.
The first major sociological theory is social disorganization theory, established by Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay. The theory resulted from a study of juvenile delinquency in Chicago using information from 1900-1940, which attempts to answer the question of how aspects of the structure of a community can affect delinquency in youth. () They wanted to demonstrate how crime was related to social, structural and cultural characteristics of a community using official delinquency data, Shaw and McKay concluded that the environment strongly influenced criminal behavior. They believed that delinquency was a product of deteriorated neighborhoods rather than from the individuals who lived there. Their social disorganization model explains deterioration and disorganization that led to a loss of control over youth and encouraged the development of gangs in the inner cities. The gangs then perpetuated delinquency that led to higher crime rates in the cities.
In order to support their social disorganization model, Shaw and McKay also introduced what is known as concentric zone theory. Their work was influenced by Robert Park and Ernest Burgess. During the 1920s, Park and Burgess developed a theory of urban ecology that suggests the struggle for scarce urban resources led to competition between groups and ultimately to the division of the urban areas into distinctive ecological niches in which people share similar social characteristics under the same ecological pressure (). The competition for resources led to the spatial differentiation of urban area into zones, and people and businesses moved...

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