The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology

By Terence Morris | Go to book overview

V
GENERAL CRITICISMS OF SHAW'S WORK

S OME comments upon the validity of Shaw's 1 concepts have already been made, notably his failure to distinguish between areas of criminal production and areas of crime commission. The most serious criticisms have, however, been made of the validity of his delinquency rates and some of his conclusions about the significance of the cultures of local communities and the nature of the physical environment itself.

Among his earliest critics was Sophie Robison,2 who not only felt that the gradient of delinquency rates from the city centre outwards was merely coincidental with a particular type of urban development, but that the rates themselves, because they were based upon court appearances could hardly provide a reliable index of the extent of delinquent behaviour. In her view the factors in delinquent conduct are too complex to crowd into a single symbol, court appearance. The customs of diverse cultural groups, she argues, are such that irrespective of the location of the groups in the city the proportions of their populations who come before the courts will inevitably vary.3

It would appear that Robison's concept of delinquency is somewhat broader than that of Shaw, and extends to cover behaviour which is generically described as anti-social. Her argument would seem to run that the higher the parental income the fewer the child's chances of coming into court, partly because of the greater importance of familial or pedagogic agencies of

____________________
1
When reference is made to Shaw, his collaborators are implicitly included unless otherwise stated.
2
Robison S. M., Can Delinquency be Measured?
3
Ibid., p. 4.

-85-

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