The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology

By Terence Morris | Go to book overview
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A LTH0UGH Henry Mayhew in the 1850's had been aware that certain districts of London housed an unduly high proportion of the criminal population of the metropolis, it was Clifford Shaw in Chicago who first used the term "delinquency area" to describe those parts of the great city which seem to throw up criminals and delinquents with the same ease with which they produce instances of poverty, overcrowding and disease. In Shaw's view, the "delinquency area" is a natural. area of the city as is the ghetto or Chinatown; it arises in the process of urban and growth and it is conspicuous for its characteristic patterns of anti-social behaviour. Within its confines, delinquent or criminal behaviour is a norm of expectation among its inhabitants; a hostile attitude is developed towards social agencies and the police and it comes to be a cultural enclave at odds with the rest of the city. Its formal characteristics are physical deterioration, overcrowding, a mobile population and a proximity to the areas of industry and commerce. Its social characteristics are primarily a lack of informal agencies of social control whereby the norms accepted by the wider society may be maintained. The cultural milieu is such that

'Children who grow up in these deteriorated and disorganised neighbourhoods of the city are not subject to the same constructive and restraining influences that surround those in the more homogeneous residential communities farther removed from the industrial and commercial centres. These disorganised neighbourhoods fail to provide a consistent set of cultural standards and a wholesome social life for the


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The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology


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