Pockets of Crime Broken Windows, Collective Efficacy, and the Criminal Point of View
by Peter K. B. St. Jean
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Cloth: 978-0-226-77498-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-77499-2 | Electronic: 978-0-226-77500-5
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.001.0001
ABOUT THIS BOOKAUTHOR BIOGRAPHYREVIEWSTABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Why, even in the same high-crime neighborhoods, do robbery, drug dealing, and assault occur much more frequently on some blocks than on others? One popular theory is that a weak sense of community among neighbors can create conditions more hospitable for criminals, and another proposes that neighborhood disorder—such as broken windows and boarded-up buildings—makes crime more likely. But in his innovative new study, Peter K. B. St. Jean argues that we cannot fully understand the impact of these factors without considering that, because urban space is unevenly developed, different kinds of crimes occur most often in locations that offer their perpetrators specific advantages.

Drawing on Chicago Police Department statistics and extensive interviews with both law-abiding citizens and criminals in one of the city’s highest-crime areas, St. Jean demonstrates that drug dealers and robbers, for example, are primarily attracted to locations with businesses like liquor stores, fast food restaurants, and check-cashing outlets. By accounting for these important factors of spatial positioning, he expands upon previous research to provide the most comprehensive explanation available of why crime occurs where it does.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Peter K. B. St. Jean is assistant professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo.

REVIEWS

"In this unique and original book, Peter St. Jean examines why some blocks in urban areas experience more crime than others.  Based on a number of sources---most importantly, in-depth interviews with drug dealers and routine robbers about their strategies for selecting a location or victim---St. Jean finds pitfalls in both broken windows and collective efficacy theories, while proposing a promising new alternative."
— Mario Luis Small, author of Villa Victoria

"What makes this book a must read for researchers and students of urban crime is the richness of data, which includes in-depth interviews with criminals, law-abiding citizens, victims of crime, local activists, and police officers, combined with the author's keen observations."
— Choice

"Pockets of Crime opens the door to a more detailed and syncretic approach to understanding the complex relationship between crime and place. . . . On methodological grounds alone, the book is a wonderful achievement and would make ideal supplementary reading for any criminological theory or methods course. . . . A rich, challenging, and perhaps ground breaking work."
— Patrick F. Parnaby, Canadian Journal of Sociology

"St. Jean's study provides a step forward in thinking about crime of place and is a must read for scholars interested in this topic."
— Joshua C. Hinkle, Crimibnal Justice Review

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword, by Robert J. Sampson

Acknowledgments

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0001
[broken windows theory, collective efficacy theory, neighborhood crime, Wentworth, Chicago]
This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of two popular and competing theories proposed to explain the causes and consequences of neighborhood crime: the first widely known as broken windows, and the second as collective efficacy. It then sets out the purpose of this book, which is to evaluate the claims and assumptions of broken windows and collective efficacy theories through five years of intensive neighborhood research within Wentworth, a police district on the south side of Chicago, Illinois that has historically been among the highest violent and predatory crime areas of the city. The discussions then turn to Chicago's history of crime and recent efforts to combat it; the research site; data gathering methods; and findings and strategies. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented. (pages 1 - 30)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0002
[broken windows theory, collective efficacy theory, neighborhood crime, Wentworth, ecological disadvantage]
Over the last seven years, broken windows theory and collective efficacy theory have received increased attention from researchers and policymakers who seek to understand and address crime problems in society. This chapter discusses the fundamental logics of these two theories as they relate to the subject at hand: namely, why crimes occur more frequently in certain neighborhood locations than in others. It explains the various ways that data from the Wentworth Area Neighborhood Study support, explain, and challenge the fundamental claims of each theory. The chapter also proposes the concept of ecological disadvantage to extend each theory by resolving problems posed by their limitations and oversights. (pages 31 - 56)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0003
[video ethnography, video images, Systematic Social Observation, Beat 213]
Video ethnography is the procedure through which video images are carefully reviewed and described in print to help explain social phenomena of concern. It is a component of Systematic Social Observation (SSO), a research method used to document aspects of neighborhood life as they occur and in a manner that can be replayed or reexamined. This chapter provides a video ethnographic description of Beat 213, which includes all of Grand Boulevard and the east side of Calumet Avenue between 39th and 43rd Streets. In this instance, SSO data were gathered using a slow-moving vehicle with cameras mounted on each side of the interior, to simultaneously produce video images of both sides of each neighborhood street. (pages 57 - 79)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0004
[perceived sources, neighborhood disorder, offenders, law-abiding residents, crime]
This chapter outlines perceived sources of neighborhood disorder from the different perspectives of offenders and law-abiding residents in the research site. Pictures are used to contextualize the quotations from interviews conducted in the field. The chapter lays the foundation for the three ethnographic chapters that follow it, in which offenders reveal intimate details associated with committing crimes such as drug dealing, robbery, and battery, the rationale being that understanding the perceived sources of neighborhood disorder is an important precursor to understanding how offenders interpret neighborhood disorder with regard to undertaking their criminal activities. (pages 80 - 97)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0005
[drug dealers, criminals, neighborhood disorder, collective efficacy theory, broken windows theory, ecological disadvantage]
This chapter explains how drug dealers interpret neighborhood disorder and understand the effects of collective efficacy on their business decisions. It highlights the various ways that the information both supports and contradicts the claims of broken windows and collective efficacy theories, and how ecological disadvantage extends each theory. (pages 98 - 148)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0006
[robbers, criminals, physical disorder, social disorder, collective action, collective efficacy]
This chapter presents ethnographic data about how robbers select (or stumble upon) their targets and how physical neighborhood appearances (physical disorder), social neighborhood appearances (social disorder), and residents' perceptions of the capacities of collective action to reduce crime (collective efficacy) are related in the process. While staging robberies, robbers pay almost no direct attention to physical disorder, find differential opportunities among places of high social disorder, and take heed of factors relevant to collective action against them. Most notably, they thrive on spontaneous or predictable opportunities that are available in spaces mainly because of where they are located and what business activities occur within them. (pages 149 - 165)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0007
[disagreements, bodily harm, domestic batteries]
Throughout the ethnographic component of this research, considerable effort was made to understand why batteries occur more frequently on some blocks than on others, and what roles physical disorder, social disorder, and collective efficacy variables play in the process. This chapter shows that batteries often result from what offenders, residents, and police officers refer to as “stupid and petty stuff,” “over nothing,” or “just to do something.” Batteries are most common under conditions of intensified interaction, when disagreements are met with desires to dominate by inflicting bodily harm to prove a point, one which is often related to gaining respect in one form or another. (pages 166 - 194)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Peter K. B. St. Jean
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226775005.003.0008
[broken windows theory, collective efficacy theory, collective disadvantage]
This chapter, which summarizes the major findings of the research and outlines the implications for theory, methods, and policy, shows that there is considerable potential for both broken windows theory and collective efficacy theory. However, these theories and their policy implications will be better understood when they account for the independent factors associated with ecological disadvantage. (pages 195 - 226)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Appendix A: Methodological Appendix

Appendix B: Recent Trends in Research on Broken Windows

Appendix C: Recent Trends in Research on Collective Efficacy

References

Index