Delinquent-Prone Communities

Delinquent-Prone Communities

Delinquent-Prone Communities

Delinquent-Prone Communities

Synopsis

This book challenges the conventional view that disadvantage causes crime because it motivates people to offend. It argues that disadvantage causes crime because it disrupts the parenting process. The theory put forward in the book maintains that it takes a long time for disadvantage to increase the level of crime in a neighborhood. However, once the level of economic and social stress in a neighborhood reaches a critical level, it can set off an epidemic of juvenile offending.

Excerpt

Scholarly interest in the question of how economic stress affects crime has a long pedigree in criminology. Quetelet (1831) and Guerry (1833) both set out to test the belief, widely held in nineteenth-century France, that crime and economic stress were positively related. They found, instead, that crime rates were higher in wealthier areas. Both attributed this result to the fact that wealthier areas provided more opportunities for crime than poorer areas. Guerry and Quetelet's observations about the relationship between crimeprone areas and wealth in nineteenth-century France may not have been mirrored by those taking observations in other countries at later points in time. the balance of evidence now clearly favours the hypothesis that economic stress and crime are highly correlated, at least where serious crime is concerned (Braithwaite 1979; Box 1987; Chiricos 1987; Belknap 1989). But they firmly established the relationship between crime and economic factors as an important observational domain for criminological theory. They also anticipated a debate about the relative importance of offender motivation and offending opportunity which is alive and well today.

The conventional approach to the problem of explaining the relationship between economic stress and crime has been to argue that economic stress – or stress, in one way or another – motivates otherwise law-abiding individuals to offend. For brevity, in what follows we refer to this as the economic stressinduced offender motivation (ESIOM) paradigm. in using this term we do not wish to be taken as suggesting that psychological stress mediates the relationship between economic factors and crime. the term 'economic stress' is used as Fowles and Merva (1996) use it, that is, merely as a shorthand way of . . .

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