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Pockets of Crime

Broken Windows, Collective Efficacy, and the Criminal Point of View

Pockets of Crime

Broken Windows, Collective Efficacy, and the Criminal Point of View

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.

256 pages | 41 halftones, 5 maps, 3 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2007


Geography: Social and Political Geography, Urban Geography

Sociology: Criminology, Delinquency, Social Control, General Sociology, Urban and Rural Sociology


"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."


"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

1          Introduction and Overview
2          Explaining Crime Hotspots: Overview and Extensions of Broken Windows and Collective Efficacy Theories
3          Here’s the Neighborhood: A Video Ethnographic Tour of Grand Boulevard, 2000
4          Perceived Sources of Neighborhood Disorder
5          “Where’s the Dope At?” The Need to Understand Drug Dealing from the Ground Up
6          “I Want It, I See It, I Take It”: The Robbery Hotspots
7          “That’s the Way We Grew Up”: The Battery Hotspots
8          What This All Means: Summary, Conclusions, and Implications
            Appendix A: Methodological Appendix
            Appendix B: Recent Trends in Research on Broken Windows
            Appendix C: Recent Trends in Research on Collective Efficacy


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