Explaining High-Risk Concentrations of Crime in the City: Social Disorganization, Crime Opportunities, and Important Next Steps

Anthony A. Braga, Ronald V. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

The empirical observation that a small number of micro places generate the bulk of urban crime problems has become a criminological axiom. Explanations for the persistence of high-crime places have traditionally drawn upon opportunity theories of crime. In a new book, Weisburd, Groff, and Yang suggest that social disorganization could also be a powerful explanation for the uneven distribution of crime within neighborhoods. In this article, we explain briefly why their empirical work considerably sharpens knowledge about crime concentrations in the city. We then offer a critique of their conclusions concerning the relative contributions of social and situational variables in explaining crime hot spots and the preventive implications they draw from these findings. Finally, we suggest new research that could invigorate the debate on the formation and persistence of high-crime places and could support interventions that seek to change the situational precipitators and facilitators of crime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-498
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 27 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

Keywords

  • communities and crime
  • crime
  • criminal justice
  • criminological theory
  • policy
  • prevention
  • rational choice theory
  • routine activity theory

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