Safe City final exam

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Crime patterns of early modern cities

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Crime patterns of early modern cities

  • higher concentration of crime in cities than countryside

  • more diverse

  • higher womans ratio

  • serious violence decline

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Why has crime decreased over centuries? (with fluctuation)

  • more control through policing

  • better quality of police

  • lesser acceptance of crime

  • developing medicine (decreased murder but not attempted murder)

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Definition of crime

changers over time and is dependent on culture

  • cultural differences: marital rapes, abortion, drug use, gay marriage

  • time: e.g. creation of internet led to new forms of crime

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Change in punishment

  • evolved from corporal to imprisonment

  • state took control of judicial system and of population

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Role of the Enlightenment

→ state of crime becoming problematized and being prosecuted

Hobbes: (1651) — need to be punished for what you did wrong to society

Montesquieu + Rousseau: social contract between rulers and people - people expect fair punishments

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Classical school mid 18th century

Beccaria: - against arbitrary power

- rule of law should prevail

- punishment should be proportional to crime and harm done

—> shift in how crime and punishment were considered

Bentham: - can’t rely on god/devil

- principles of law based on the rationality of humans

—> humans are rational,hedonistic and have free will so they should respond to deterrence

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the action of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear

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Principles of deterrence

  1. certainty

  2. severity (should be proportional)

  3. celerity (done quickly)

→ paradox: people still committing crimes

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Phrenology (Biological theories of crime)


→ study of shape of the skull to indicate mental faculties and character (pseudoscience)

→ first fully developed theory of crime

→ meh to apply a scientific method to a social phenomena of criminality

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Positivist school and Degeneration theory

Theory: biological characteristics create the “unfit”

→ find characteristics - find criminal

→ some people are born criminals

→ pseudoscience

  • goes against rationality

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Impact of the degeneration theory on society

  • prejudice and racism

  • developed new research techniques (mugshots and fingerprinting)

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Emile Durkheim

→ sciences cannot explain social phenomena; need to look at context

→ crime more likely linked to social environment, organizations of neighborhoods etc.

→ Concept of Anomie

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Concept of Anomie (Durkheim)

break up of moral values, standards and shared norms in society

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How can Anomie explain crime?

Crime occurs when:

  1. social norms are changing too rapidly and created a feeling of alienation (e.g. during industrialization; large waves of migration)

  2. when conflict occurred between an individual or a group with different values than rest of society

    → by going against common values aimed at the good of the society as a whole, individuals can become criminal

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Chicago school and Social disorganization theory

Chicago school: emphasis on impact of the environment and social structure on human behavior

Social Disorganization Theory: links crime rates to neighborhoods ecological characteristics; failure of social institutions

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Different kinds of safety

  • social insecurity - threat to health and property by deliberate criminal acts

  • physical insecurity - threat to health by accidents (road safety, natural disasters)

→ objective safety: number of murders, car theft, floods….

→ subjective safety: fear of falling victim to a crime, fear of falling ill

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“Safe City”

a city that is both free of both crime (objective social security) and fear of crime (subjective social security)

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human behavior in which other people (animals, or the environments) are exploited or harmed

→ violates social rules and for which legal norms are established by the government indicating that it is not allowed

Note: its a working definition — differences in what is considered crime varies of time and cultures

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  • the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomena that includes the process of making and breaking laws as well as reacting to the breaking of laws

  • why certain things are defined as criminal and who has the power to make such decisions

  • critique: often a focus on violent crimes and not other factors of safety considered

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Why is crime an issue?

its common

  • crime against persons

  • crime against property

societal issue because it causes significant harm

  • material harm for citizens as an effect of the crime itself

  • material harm: cost of policing/preventing harm

  • environmental harm

  • immaterial harm: suffering of victims, trauma, fear of crime, avoidant behavior

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How do we measure crime?

  1. crimes reported to police

  2. interview surveys of victims

  3. self report surveys asking if participants broke the law

  4. health and mortality stats

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Crimes reported to police critique

(widely used but quite unreliable)

  • affected by peoples ability and willingness to report a crime

  • crimes committed against people who commit crime hesitant to report

  • depends on willingness of police to record crime

    → probably more crime happening than police stats say

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Victim surveys criticism

(more accurate in uncovering the experience of crime)

  • but still reluctance to talk about victimization

  • especially when self involved in crime

    → levels of crime still understated

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Self report surveys

  • more crimes compared to police reports but still reluctant

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Health and mortality rates

(most accurate measure for particular violent crimes)

  • most reliable → harder to hide

  • but only includes certain crimes

    e.g. murders — doesnt count attempted murder

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ecological fallacy

when one makes inferences about individuals based on group-level data

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Muchembled on late-medieval cities

  • should be as safe as possible to encourage commerce + prosperity

    → physical defenses (walls)

    → early forms of policing

    → justice dispensed by various institutional bodies

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Did crime increase in the 18th century?

three processes that raised concern about crime

  1. Bureaucratization - increase in crime prosecution

  2. centralization - increase in visibility of crime

  3. urbanization - increase in crime

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Birth of the dangerous classes (19th century concept)

Bureaucratization and centralization led to the collection of quantitative data → stats revealed high level of crimes in cities where proletarization (creation of working class) increased

→ lower class seen as threatening to elite/bourgeois ideals

→ created dangerous class

  • created fear of lower classes

  • “breeding ground of evil doers”

  • publication of works that put blame on lower classes

  • positivist idea of born criminals

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Fear of crime an elitist problem of the 18th century?

Henry Fielding: surveillance of lower classes not to make population feel safer but to control them - segregation of classes

Colquhun: advocated for police focused on “preventing” crime

Murray: top down view of F.O.C

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Nocturnalization (Koslofski)

  • expansion of legitimate social and symbolic uses of the night

  • first by elites → domestication of the night

  • introduction of shifts → lower classes working more during the evening

  • street lamps

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Industrial city as criminogenic

  • increased migration

  • increase in produced goods

  • limited police

→ concentration of potential offenders, suitable targets and absence of legitimate guardians (Routine Activity Theory)

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Visibility of crime 18th-19th century

four processes that again increased concerns

  1. Urbanization : increase in potential offenders and targets

  2. Bureaucratization: increase in crime prosecution

  3. Centralization: increase in visibility for the gov.

  4. Mediatization: increase in information of crime shared (Moral Panic)

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Importance of studying FOC

  • can be harm quality of life by reducing mobility

  • political means

  • related to a city’s economy

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Defining fear of crime

→ no universally accepted definition

better to look at different factors independently (open box)

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F.O.C. closed box

  • standard question of how to study crime (“How safe do you feel alone in the neighborhood at night?”)


  • limiting in context (only focusing on neighborhood and night)

  • safety not only relates to crime but also e.g. fires

  • doesn’t factor in emotions

  • not suitable for responding to specific problems

  • fails to mention crime at all

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Opening box

  • dont mix fear and perceived risk


Perceived risk: pepoles estimation of how likely they are to falling victim to a crime

Fear of crime: asking if people are afraid of certain crimes

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Opened box

  • emphasis on emotional dimension

  • critique: only measures FOC and doesnt help understand it

  • no differentiation between intensity and frequency

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Victimization thesis (FOC individual level explanations)


  • previous victimization affect on how people report to feel

  • not strong evidence that its a constant or strong explanation

  • “wasn’t too bad”


  • hearing from secondary sources about potential victimization

  • media plays big role

  • more evidence here

  • it affects how we look at certain parts of the city (mental safety maps) (interpret signs in relation to what you have learned about that situation)

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Vulnerability thesis (FOC individual level explanation)

→ perception of being socially or physically vulnerable

background variables: age, gender, etc.

Gender: strongest and most widely accepted predictor of FOC

  • shadow of sexual assault theory (linking other crimes to fear of being sexually assaulted)

  • social construction of masculinity and femininity

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Neighborhood FOC/contextual level explanation (Theoretical model - Wilkstrom & Dolmen)

(I dont really know)

Social integration: contexts in which individuals are tightly knit and connected - theoretically more likely to respond to problems of crime and disorder —> considered to reduce FOC —> informal social control


  • physical disorder: visible results of undesirable behavior → broken widows theory

  • social disorder: people who exhibit transgressing behavior

Configuration of space: layout of neighborhood important - mixed use, natural surveillance (Jane jacobs - eyes on the street)

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Situational FOC/Event level explanations

personal experienced fears in a broader context or specific location

  • mental mapping

  • colors, lighting, layout?

  • less explanations

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Typology of crime in the past (Middle ages to 1800, Europe)

  • against God (linked to morality)

  • against property

  • against person

  • against public order

→ prosecution and sentencing based on precedents and royal decrees

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How is crime linked to the city?

  • due to concentration of people from rural origins?

    • anomie theory (Durkheim - father of sociology)

    • when people move to the city they look for contact with support system network, lack of control

  • due to attention given to crime and offenders?

    • fear of dangerous classes

    • gave impression urbanization linked to crime

  • due to environment?

    • Chicago school/social disorganization theory

    • context dependent

    • crime linked to social and physical environment you live in

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Case Study: England and Scotland → why were Irish over-represented in 19th. century England crime stats?

  • migration: changing perception after Great Famine

  • anomie : mismatch between personal and group standards/wider society → migrational context could have created tensions e.g. because of different religions

  • Othering → discrimination and stereotyping of the Irish (were associated with criminality and drunkenness)

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→ process of creating “the other”

Hegel: concept of self can only exist if other is its counterpart (only when you can compare to someone else)

  • differences can be seen as positive or negative

  • natural to make sense of environments to define ourselves

    • problematic when its used to denigrate the value of the other

Tool to justify exclusion or control by the more powerful

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Post war crime rise (1960s)

often associated with poverty, urbanization and social disorganization

Sociological Paradox:

  • increasing incomes

  • disparities decerased

  • poverty declined

  • unemployment decreased

  • education increased

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Newburns Health warnings (be critical: trends(rise,drop,change) don’t include all crimes)

  • consistency → different ways of recording (US has different law enforcement)

  • only recorded crimes covered → always big dark number

  • reporting vs. officially recording → drop case when evidence not strong enough; political decision (crime rates not recorded because its bad for the agenda/image

  • police practices “in the round” → police focusing on one crime and increasing protocols for said crime increase found numbers

  • insurance coverage → if you want to collect insurance fee you need evidence so more people reported crime

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Ferrell, Hayward & Young on crime rates

e.g. "domestic violence dropped by 34%”

→ rates might not have dropped; consider:

  • how many victims are prepared to speak up?

  • what is the definition of domestic violence? did it change?

  • who is asking the questions?

  • who reported the numbers?

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Routine Activity Theory (Cohen & Felson)

What does crime need to be a crime?

  • a victim or target

  • a motivated offender

  • a lack of a capable guardian

→ criminal opportunity theory (takes offender for granted)

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Routine activity theory as dominant explanation for crime rise 60s

Increase in suitable targets

  • increased car ownership

  • increase in small valuables and appliances

  • increase in woman labor market participation and leisure activities (increase pool of predatory crimes)

Decrease in guardianship

  • increase in commuting/away from household activity

  • increase in woman labor → house unguarded during day

macro level theory → explaining rise in country or region

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Crime drop beginning 1990s explanation

  • still not really an explanation

  • maybe because nature of crime changed?

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Crime drop explanations discussed in Newburn

  1. Imprisonment

  2. Policing

  3. Security and prevention (?)

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  • mass incarceration in US because of war on drugs → easier than prevention

  • politically interesting to invest in rather than prevention → see results faster

  • crime dropped because imprisonment rose

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Mechanisms punishment


  • general or

  • specific (person that already committed a crime might be less likely to be a repeat offender)

  • stigma around prisons → mass incarceration might decrease stigma

Rehabilitation of prisoners:

  • not a factor because spending went down


  • inability of an incarcerated person to commit additional crimes (Take offenders of the street)

  • however → crimes inside prisons not recorded; crimes from inside to the outside (mass incarceration gives power to prison gangs)

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failure of specific deterrence

those released from prison most likely to be involved because they were incarcerated

  • know what its like

  • prison as school of crime

  • interference with stakes of conformity

  • labeling as criminal - does damage; already labeled so might as well

  • resentment

  • inter-generational factors of incarceration on family

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What caused the prison boom?

  • not because of crime rise but “era of prison industrial complex”

  • ideologies of racism → punished more for lesser crimes

  • pursuits of profits → private prisons with large companies having a stake hold

  • mass supervision

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different types of policing

  • community policing

  • problem-oriented policing

  • standard model

  • hot spots policing


-policing more focused on one community

-amount of police officers (more not always better)

-hot spot policing

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a modern form or “art” of governance that gave shape to a complex array of programs and techniques for governing people and things in the present but also with the aim of shaping the future

  • logic of governmentality sees crimes such as theft affecting the entire population

    • increased security measures (police and private security)

    • other methods of controlling crime such as punishments and biopower

    → problem: ignores agency of people

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Population beginning 18th century

  • seen as having its own dimension and regularities → independent from the state and needed to be managed

  • new techniques for government intervention → crime prevention based on empirical research

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Programs & techniques of government(ality)

easily implemented after research:

  • Who/What is being governed?

  • How are they being governed?

  • To what end are they being governed? (Goal)

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Social Control

mechanisms in the form of patterns of pressure through which society maintains social order and cohesion

  • enforces standard behaviors; shame, coercion, force and persuasion

  • exercised through individuals, groups and institutions

  • goal: maintain conformity

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Informal social control

  • peer-pressure, gossip, vigilantes

  • acts committed in public to denounce non-respect of the norms of the majority

  • importance of shame and othering

  • eyes on the street - encourages potential offenders not to act

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Formal social control

by institutions (police, tribunals, prisons, churches, university courts…)

  • could rely on same techniques such as shame

  • deterrence

  • goal: maintaining social order and cohesion

in between: private security (follow codes of institutions but dont have all the right)

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Who was the police? (Renaissance - Napoleon)

  • gate keepers

  • watchmen

  • soldiers/mercenaries

  • constables and justices of the peace

  • neighborhood committees

  • etc

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Tasks of ‘old’ police

  • enforce common standards

  • control of goods and people entering the city

  • armed support for tax collection

  • raise alarm in case of fire

  • control of faith

  • help in catching criminals

  • defense of city in case of attack

  • mediation

    = preventing crime was not their main duty

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Develpment of police

Late 17th France

  • developed more rational professional type of police

  • to maintain standard

18th century

  • some wages

  • attention starts turning to preventative role

New institutions

  • police professionalization

  • better control of population

  • special units to regulate migration

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Theories explaining crime at neighborhood level

  • social disorganization theory

  • collective efficacy theory

  • broken windows theory

  • defensible space theory

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Social Disorganization theory

  • developed by the Chicago School

  • theory directly links crime rates to neighborhood characteristics

  • residential location is as significant or more significant than a person’s individual characteristic

Background: Chicago in 20s - 40s

  • industrialization

  • attracting many outsiders

    • rapid urbanization

    • societal shift

Chicago Schools concerns:

  • community deterioration

  • disorder, poverty, alienation

  • unemployment

  • weakening bonds

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Social Disorganization theory and FOC

  1. fear of crime as rooted in objective crime rates

  2. fear of crime as rooted in the unfamiliar and unpredictable other

    • direct result of concerns

    • social control to control fear

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SD Theory critique

dissatisfaction in relation to changing urban world

  • idea and ideal of urban villages (with strong local friendship networks) seems increasingly less valid as part of an individualizing and up-tempo urban living

  • are these ties still important in a globalizing, individualizing and digitizing world?

    → introduce collective efficacy

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Collective efficacy theory

  • refers to the ability of members of a community to control the behavior of individual /groups in the community

  • how this trust among residents reduces crimes

  • lack of collective efficacy (perception of a group that they can successfully work together) in neighborhoods theorized to increase crime there

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How to measure collective efficacy

feelings of trust and cohesion amongst residents + informal social control

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Broken Windows Theory

states that visible signs of crime, and anti social behavior create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder

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Broken windows theory criticism

  • what is disorder? who defines it?

  • disorder and crime 2 sides of the same coin? → if they have the same root how can there be a causal relationship

  • theory (ab)used

    • by policing: arresting people for misdemeanors

    • stop and frisk: search and question anyone who looks sus

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Defensible space theory (Oscar Newman)

→ argues that architectural and environmental design plays a crucial part in increasing or reducing criminality

core idea: community’s capacity for social control is directly influenced by the physical design of the neighborhood

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defensible space

a residential environment whose physical characteristics function to allow inhabitants themselves to become key agents in ensuring their security

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Four core concepts of the defensible space theory

  1. territoriality

  2. natural surveillance

  3. image

  4. milieu/GJ

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capacity of the physical environment to create perceived zones of territorial influence

→ sense of ownership crucial for creating social control and FOC

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Natural surveillance

capacity of physical design to provide surveillance opportunities for residents and their agents

→ easier to monitor and this execute social control

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capacity of design to influence the perception of a projects uniqueness, isolation and stigma

→ appearance influences perception

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influence of geographical juxtaposition with so called safe zones on the security of adjacent areas

→ locations considered safe can have a spillover effect on the surrounding environment

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Mapping disorder - chaos of the city Grundlagen

→ increasing interests for crime stats during 19th century

→ collection of data thanks to bureaucratization

  • led to first analytical maps of what was deemed problematic at the time (illness, poverty, crime, prostitution)

goal of maps: explanation/solutions for issues using empirical data

Charles James Booth - one of the dudes that made maps

  • maps/stats reflect interests, concerns and moral norms held by the elite at that time

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Moral Geographies

studies of interaction and variations within morality, pace and space such as the analysis of global variations in moral beliefs and practices

  • subject to improvement

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Improvement (moral geographies)

  • securitization, policing, destruction of the area, building of workers habitations, opening up of the urban space

  • basis: seeing an area/neighborhood as problematic

  • e.g. Paris ( large avenues that destroyed slums )

  • e.g. Chicago (areas of gangs destroyed and rebuilt for more elite residents)

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Police in port cities then vs. now

Then: police and security to guarantee an orderly port economy, commercial activities, circulation of people and gods

Today: hybridization such as plural policing

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plural policing

→ different ways of controlling/policing people

  • police

  • private security

neo-liberal strategies of crime prevention

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Was plural policing a new idea?


Leloup: plural and private policing were central features of crime control an prevention at turn of 19th century

  • notion of harm reduction, risk management, situational crime prevention are not late modern inventions

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Port of Antwerp

  • massive growth from transport to commercial port (1860s-1929)

  • major rise in property crime in port district

  • growth made it impossible to control efficiently

  • complex network of public, private and hybrid security > cooperation and competition

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Possible solutions to rise of crime

  • control of labor force but situational crime prevention more suitable

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Situational crime prevention

manipulating the environment to limit crime and problem oriented approach : reduce opportunities for specific crime by increasing risk o being caught and reducing the reward

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Problem oriented actions

  • gather data to understand problem and find risk paces

  • opportunity reducing measures because opportunity makes the thief (not social or biological)

    • remove temptations

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Practical changes

  • increasing means of control (more artificial lights, more guards, fewer windows of opportunity)

  • fences + manned gates

  • temporal control

  • private control(merchant owners job to secure goods)

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Situational vs. social crime prevention

social: underlying criminality of criminal behavior; fundamental causes of crime

situational: more preventative; reducing opportunities; locally or situationally implemented → criticized for displacing the problem and not going to the root cause

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Situational opportunity theories

  • focus on understanding crime on the local/micro level

  • guidance on how to prevent it

  • central focus is crime opportunity

  • relies on some form of rational choice theory

→ decision to engage in crime can be manipulated

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Rational choice theory

→ criminal behavior as a result from the rational calculation of costs and benefits

  • cost of crime highest when punishment is certain, immediate and proportional to the crime

  • uses ideas of deterrence (specific and general)

  • people choose to commit crimes→ choice is guided by maximization of satisfaction or utility

  • utility of crime = expected gains + expected costs

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Benefits and costs of crime


  • material goods (money, goods…)

  • immaterial goods (drug rush, excitement, status)


  • material costs (effort, punishment)

  • immaterial costs (reputation, self image)

so basically do crime when benefits outweigh the costs ( Jeff would be proud)

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Bounded rationality theory

RCT bold assumptions

  • people are capable of such calculations and have the necessary info

  • assumes rationality is not impacted by emotions or e.g. drugs

BRT: fleeting calculations of benefits and costs are made within the limits of time, resources and info

  • argues that behavioral choices are structured in peoples routines and affected by social distribution of opportunities and prevention from authorities

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How are opportunities of crime distributed through cities?

Crime pattern theory

  • where do motivated offenders search for crime opportunities?

    → mostly in everyday activities

  • Nodes, pods, concept of activity space, awareness space

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home node + other activity nodes

→ often lots of people bundling at these locations

assumption that when given the chance at least some people will consider crime

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