A systematic exploration of how criminology has accounted for the role of community over the past century

Communities and Crime

An Enduring American Challenge

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Pamela Wilcox, Francis T. Cullen, and Ben Feldmeyer

"Wilcox, Cullen, and Feldmeyer have done the field a major service with this powerful and timely review of enduring neighborhood stratification and its consequences for crime. Communities and Crime is theoretically rich and exhaustively comprehensive, which makes for an invaluable contribution to the study of neighborhood processes. Communities and Crime will be widely read and cited across disciplines."
Eric A. Stewart, Ronald L. Simons Professor of Criminology at Florida State University

Social scientists have long argued over the links between crime and place. The authors of Communities and Crime provide an intellectual history that traces how varying images of community have evolved over time and influenced criminological thinking and criminal justice policy.

The authors outline the major ideas that have shaped the development of theory, research, and policy in the area of communities and crime. Each chapter examines the problem of the community through a defining critical or theoretical lens: the community as social disorganization; as a system of associations; as a symptom of larger structural forces; as a result of criminal subcultures; as a broken window; as crime opportunity; and as a site of resilience.

Focusing on these changing images of community, the empirical adequacy of these images, and how they have resulted in concrete programs to reduce crime, Communities and Crime theorizes about and reflects upon why some neighborhoods produce so much crime. The result is a tour of the dominant theories of place in social science today.



Read Chapter 1 (pdf).



"Communities and Crime probes one of the most vital and intellectually exciting areas of the discipline. Why do some communities experience higher crime rates than others? Why are these differences so enduring, despite turnover in residents? Criminologists have argued for much of the last century over questions such as these, producing seminal research and leading theories. Wilcox, Cullen, and Feldmeyer provide an authoritative account of this important body of work that makes for fascinating reading. Their intellectual history melds seamlessly with a synthesis of contemporary research, making this a book for all criminologists and students of crime to read. I look forward to assigning Communities and Crime in class and continuing to learn from its insights."
Robert J. Sampson, Harvard University, and author of Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect



1. Images of Community in Criminological Thought
2. Community as Socially Disorganized
3. Community as a System
4. Community as the Truly Disadvantaged
5. Community as a Criminal Culture
6. Community as a Broken Window
7. Community as Criminal Opportunity
8. Community as Collective Efficacy
9. Communities and Crime: Looking Ahead



About the Author(s)

Pamela Wilcox is Professor of Criminal Justice and Fellow of the Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati. She is the co-author of Criminal Circumstance: A Dynamic Multicontextual Criminal Opportunity Theory and co-editor of Challenging Criminological Theory: The Legacy of Ruth Rosner Kornhauser.

Francis T. Cullen is Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Associate in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. He is co-author of Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory.

Ben Feldmeyer is Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.


Subject Categories

Urban Studies
Law and Criminology

In the Series

Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy

The Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy Series, edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin, was founded by the late Zane L. Miller to publish books that examine past and contemporary cities, focusing on cultural and social issues. The editors seek proposals that analyze processes of urban change relevant to the future of cities and their metropolitan regions, and that examine urban and regional planning, environmental issues, and urban policy studies, thus contributing to ongoing debates.



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