The Criminology of Place: Street Segments and Our Understanding of the Crime Problem

The Criminology of Place: Street Segments and Our Understanding of the Crime Problem

The Criminology of Place: Street Segments and Our Understanding of the Crime Problem

The Criminology of Place: Street Segments and Our Understanding of the Crime Problem

Synopsis

The study of crime has focused primarily on why particular people commit crime or why specific communities have higher crime levels than others. In The Criminology of Place, David Weisburd, Elizabeth Groff, and Sue-Ming Yang present a new and different way of looking at the crime problem by examining why specific streets in a city have specific crime trends over time. Based on a 16-year longitudinal study of crime in Seattle, Washington, the book focuses our attention on small units of geographic analysis-micro communities, defined as street segments. Half of all Seattle crime each year occurs on just 5-6 percent of the city's street segments, yet these crime hot spots are not concentrated in a single neighborhood and street by street variability is significant. Weisburd, Groff, and Yang set out to explain why.

The Criminology of Place shows how much essential information about crime is inevitably lost when we focus on larger units like neighborhoods or communities. Reorienting the study of crime by focusing on small units of geography, the authors identify a large group of possible crime risk and protective factors for street segments and an array of interventions that could be implemented to address them. The Criminology of Place is a groundbreaking book that radically alters traditional thinking about the crime problem and what we should do about it.

Excerpt

Criminology has been predominantly concerned with people, and in particular with understanding why offenders come to commit crimes. But as we noted in chapter 1, there has also been a long history of interest in place in criminology. Indeed, geographic analysis of crime played a critical role in the founding generations of criminology in Europe and was also an important catalyst for criminological innovation for the founders of American criminology. in this chapter, we describe these trends, focusing in particular on the ways in which the “criminology of place” differs from traditional interests in place in criminology.

Two themes are particularly important in this regard. the first is the movement from large areas of geography, often defined by administrative units of government, to very small units fit to the geography of crime in the city. As we will argue below, studying crime at micro units of place is not only fit to the specific contexts that recent theories have suggested, but also allows us to avoid important methodological limitations of prior work. the second theme is linked to the theoretical backdrop for understanding the criminology of place. As we will describe below, the predominant themes of place in criminology have been linked to social or structural theories. the role of social disorganization as reflected in such factors as poverty, social heterogeneity, and collective efficacy has been the key concern of scholars who have studied crime at higher levels of geography. in contrast, as we noted in chapter 1, theories that emphasize the opportunity structures for crime have been the primary sources for theoretical explanation of the criminology of place. We argue in this chapter that there is strong reason for “theoretical integration” in study of the criminology of place (Bernard and Snipes, 1996), in which both opportunity perspectives and social disorganization theory are used to understand variability in crime at micro units of geography.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.