Factor Affecting the Presence of Crime in Inner Cities of America Essay example

Factor Affecting the Presence of Crime in Inner Cities of America Essay example

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The presence of crime in the inner cities of America is the result of many different factors. Although it is impossible to explain the issue with one single theory, it is possible to recognize the characteristics within society that have traditionally been associated with crime. These include poor neighborhoods, weak family structures and high rates of unemployment. However, they cannot be used to explain overarching mechanisms of extremely high rates of American urban crime today. Social structures as well as cultural conditions play strong explanatory roles in describing the causes of crime in American cities. Some prominent social structural theories include social disorganization theory, strain theory, and cultural deviance theory.
The first major sociological theory is social disorganization theory, established by Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay. The theory resulted from a study of juvenile delinquency in Chicago using information from 1900-1940, which attempts to answer the question of how aspects of the structure of a community can affect delinquency in youth. () They wanted to demonstrate how crime was related to social, structural and cultural characteristics of a community using official delinquency data, Shaw and McKay concluded that the environment strongly influenced criminal behavior. They believed that delinquency was a product of deteriorated neighborhoods rather than from the individuals who lived there. Their social disorganization model explains deterioration and disorganization that led to a loss of control over youth and encouraged the development of gangs in the inner cities. The gangs then perpetuated delinquency that led to higher crime rates in the cities.
In order to support their social di...


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...bstantially over time. Zone III, also known as the area of “respectable artisans,” consisted of rooming and boarding houses where workers lived. It was also the area where those who could get out of the deteriorating conditions of Zone II were likely to move. Zone IV, “suburbia,” was the residential area of the middle-class single family homes and apartment residences. Lastly, Zone V, was the commuter area where upper-class residents lived in large single family homes ().
The strength of this theory is that it clearly explains the cause of highest crime rates in inner slum areas. It points out factors that produce crime and provides solid explanation for high crime rates in poor neighborhoods. Shaw and McKay’s theory, however, fails to answer the questions of why the middle class commits crime, as well as why most of the lower class remains law-abiding.

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