Monday, 13 December 2010

Assignment 4 - Reading and Reviewing

“Crime, Shame and Reintegration” by John Braithwaite is book I looked into which offers a perspective of crime and punishment in the US. Braithwaite believes that the current system of dealing with crime and punishment today is not effective, due to people using the shaming technique incorrectly. The book also looks into the psychology behind criminal behaviour and the reasons why people do it or in some cases do not participate. The area of the book I looked into was Chapter Two: The Dominant Theoretical Traditions. This Chapter is split up into five parts/theories: Labeling, Subcultural, Control, Opportunity and Learning.
The theory I chose to look into in more detail was “The Control Theory” because I felt it was the most interesting of the theories to read into, as it speaks more about the beginning of criminal behaviour at an early age. The main purpose of this article is to convey the reason why people react the way they do when subject to criminal activity or participating in criminal activity.  Especially in young children today, individuals are often fascinated to engage in crime to receive behavioural attention.  The key question the author is addressing is not “Why did he/she do it?”, but “Why did he/she not do it?” Humans will seek a reward after committing a crime... looking for some sort of attention, unless they are put in check early or in other ways controlled!
 The most important information I found in this article was about “social bonding” and its connection to delinquency control.  Braithwaite believes that there are four aspects of social bond: attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. They can see criminal activity linking into the social bond people or children have with their family, school and occasionally to the church. Evidence proves that if people have a strong attachment with family they are often less likely to engage in crime, especially in the attachment of juveniles with parents. The author gains this evidence from (Glueck and Glueck, 1950).  Education on the other hand, creates an ever stronger bond with criminal activity due to the point that “delinquency to be more the cause than a consequence of school attachment”.  There is a connection between poor school performance, not enjoying school, feeling less attached to school and low aspirations, that can all can lead to bad behaviour. 
Criminals themselves could even be explained by procedures like negative social labelling. Negative social labelling can be successful in dropping crime rates as it works by stigmatizing a bad name/label on the person, developing into a negative self-image. This is why it works especially well on young children who are strongly bonded to their family and school . Attachment is an essential but not a satisfactory condition for effective social control.
The main conclusion in this article is that attachment can reduce crime rates when people sufficiently make use of shaming and take into consideration the process of social control!  Reintegrative shaming works especially well in the social bonding within Culture, as it is looked so intensely at. Culture can use a powerful and immediate control against both corporate crimes as well as minor petty crimes, in preventing but also reducing crime rates.
The key concept we need to establish in this article is that there is a link between all the theories and by these concepts the author means the theory of reintegrative shaming... The author presents favourably the point of view that each theory complements each other in order to work successfully in crime reduction.

The Journal I looked into was called “Neighbourhood design and fear of crime: A social-ecological examination of the correlates of residents' fear in new suburban housing developments” by Sarah Foster, Billie Giles-Corti and Matthew Knuiman.  The study explores the connection between neighborhood design and residents’ fear of crime in suburban housing areas. Both primary reports and second hand data were collected as part of a project called: the RESIDential Environments (RESIDE) Project. They came to the conclusion that people feel a lot safer in a pedestrian area with a higher density and more accessible space to get to shops etc.
The article speaks about fear and how it creates anxiety and can affect someone’s mental health. For example small things such as litter, vandalism and graffiti can all heighten insecurities and prevent residents from wanting to go out into their own neighborhood and socialise. The key question the author is asking, is if housing and street design can reduce both crime and residents fear at one time. She goes about answering this question by looking into different methods such as: Individual Characteristics, Neighborhood Perceptions, Social Environment and Physical Environment to try and reduce crime and anxiety.
The RESIDential Environments (RESIDE) Project created a study of the “impact of urban design on health in Perth, Western Australia. They were asked to complete a questionnaire before they moved into their new home and another two after they were relocated.  The most important information in this article and the results of the question airing were as followed:
The results confirmed some well-established associations between demographic characteristics and fear of crime: women and older adults were significantly more fearful; and participants with a university education or higher household income had lower odds of being fearful. All subsequent analyses adjusted for these demographic variables; and although not presented in the tables, the observed associations persisted.”

The main conclusion the author came to is that there is definitely a direct connection between neighborhood planning and residents fearfulness. Not only is it just one or two characteristics that provide someone to feel safe but the efficient effect of land-planning and housing design. Residents prefer areas where there is a presence of district guardians, areas which encourage people to come of their homes and into public realms and well facilitated pedestrian movement space on the streets.  Linking back to the “The Broken Windows Theory” this article is similar in suggesting that if areas of wider land space are created, the less crime that is going to be produced and the level of resident’s fearfulness is reduced. Same as if an area has the beginning of windows being broken, vandals will see this area as being a place excellent for disrupting even more and the criminal behaviour is continued.
 Fear of crime has been associated with social withdrawal, and poorer mental and physical health (Stafford 2007). The main point of view of this article and the statistical findings, support the argument that a more walkable neighborhood is a place where the residents living there feel a lot safer.

“Crime, Shame and Reintegration” and “Neighbourhood design and fear of crime: A social-ecological examination of the correlates of residents' fear in new suburban housing developments”, I feel are linked in many ways but in others contrast. The book by John Braithwaite talks about the development of crime and the psychology behind it. It closely looks into different theories used to stop crime happening... for example the very successful “Shaming” technique which links not to why he/she committed the crime but why he/she did not commit the crime. On the other hand the article “Neighbourhood design and fear of crime” looks only into the environmental factors which both can influence crime to occur and increase residents fear of crime. Although the book and article are completely different, each of them refers to mental and psychological feelings behind crime. “Crime, shame and reintegration” believes that shaming someone from a stigmatism is the way of control to reduce criminal activities at an earlier stage.
“Reintegrative shaming keeps most of us on the anti-criminal side of the tipping point most of the time” page 31
One of three authors of the article I looked at, Sarah Foster believes that if new suburban housing areas are built with the consideration of, high density street design and an overall friendlier looking environment , the less likely criminal activity and bad behaviour will occur, making the neighborhood feel at ease and comfortable living in their own homes.
Another article I shortly looked into in the last assignment was: Residents' Efforts at Neighborhood Stabilization: Facing the Challenges of Inner-City Neighborhoods by Patrick G. Donnelly and Theo J. Majka. This paper also examines the response of residents living in an inner city neighborhood and their views on the sudden increase of crime, drugs and disorderly behaviour. Rather than residents moving away from the crime, they decided to do something about it as a community. Working as a group, city officials were more likely look at their case being more serious as a target area for criminal behaviour and actions would therefore be put in place a lot quicker, to provide a more enjoyable place for residents to live.
Both articles speak as though there should always be a reason behind crime, whether this is the “social bonding” behind a person and their connection to either family, school or culture, whether the correct techniques are being put in place for shaming an individual that what they are doing is wrong, or environmental examples such as redesigning a new suburban area before it is built to get ahead of the game and stop crime before it happens, or whether you work as a team to get the issue sorted, rather than living in fear of your own neighborhood.
I feel that the areas I could look into further is the references Braithwaite has used in his book to prove the points he has spoken, behind successful shaming techniques and theories. I preferred reading “Crime, shame an reintegration” than the other article as I found it more interesting, learning about more the reason why people are committing and the ways of stopping it, rather than a neighborhood side of it. I am curious to look more into the child psychology and ways that schooling deals with bad behaviour before it gets out of control. Although Braithwaite speaks about the social bonding between and juvenile and school, I would definitely like to look into it further. After reading these articles I feel like crime has a lot more simpler reasoning behind it and if caught early, there would be a massive decrease in the mass of bad criminal behaviour today.

References Used:
Braithwaite J, (1989), Crime, Shame and Reintegration, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Donnelly, P.G., And Majka, T.J., 1998. Residents' Efforts at Neighborhood Stabilization: Facing the Challenges of Inner-City Neighborhoods, Sociological Forum, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.189-213.

Foster, S. Giles-Corti, B. And Knuiman, M., 2010. Neighbourhood design and fear of crime: A social-ecological examination of the correlates of residents' fear in new suburban housing developments, Health and Place 16: (6) pp. 1156-1165.
Glueck, S. And Glueck E, (1950), Unravelling Juvenile Delinquency, Nw York: The Commonwealth Fund.