The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology

By Terence Morris | Go to book overview

VIII
SOME YOUNG DELINQUENTS: AN ANALYSIS OF CASE MATERIAL

(a) The purpose of the material and construction of the sample.

F ROM an analysis of rates of offenders living in different areas of the town, two things are apparent (a) the rates vary between wards, and indeed, between different parts of the same ward in some instances, and (b) nowhere are all the persons in a particular age category involved in crime or delinquency, even in those areas with the highest rates. It would seem important then to amplify the ecological analysis of the incidence of certain measurable and objective social indices by examining in more detail the processes whereby individuals interact with others in a common environment, and to inquire whether in the personal lives of those individuals there are any important factors which cannot be fully appreciated except by specific investigation.1

Ideally one might begin by constructing a random sample of the population of each ward, in which the delinquent and nondelinquent would have an equal chance of being selected, and by an analysis of the case material thus obtained produce a composite picture of the common social universe of which both were members in the fullest sense. Unfortunately, the limitations of time and finance did not permit such an inquiry, and indeed precluded the use of the familiar control group technique. With the only material readily available being that relating to persons who had in some way come to the notice of such official agen-

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1
This need was of course fecognised by Shaw, Thrasher, Whyte, and most of the other important members of the Chicago School, as well as by Thomas and Znaniecki in The Polish Peasant.

-131-

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