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Before the 19th century, the city of Chicago experienced a lot of social and security problems due to the increased number of migrants. Following the unstable security issues, the student of the University of Chicago together with their lectures conducted a study work that was meant to look at the issue of crime in the city; hence coming up with a concrete and long-lasting solution. The study work is what is popularly known as Chicago School.  According to Reid (2015), the massive increase in population was due to migration fostered problem-related to housing, institutional strain, and poverty.

Chicago School and Study of Crime

During the study, Ernest Burgess and Park constructed a diagrammatical model that they named the concentric zone model. This is the theory that was used to study the emergence of crime in the city. According to the theory, rich people lived away from the city and poor people close to the city. In simple terms, the theory revealed the relationship between the class, social ecology, and crime. They showed how external social factors have an influence on crime. Secondly, the theory of Shaw and McKay showed how the social factors mentioned by Parka and Burgess have an effect on crime. It showed the relationship between the external factors and crime (Flynn, 2017).

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Thirdly, Marton came up with Merton’s theory that explained how social pressure affects individual’s behavior. Additionally, Chicago school had an effect on the adoption of interactionist theory which demonstrated not just the causes of crime but the main aim of the crime. Lastly, the Chicago school contributed to the ethnographic theory that tends to explain in details on the social phenomena that causes crime (Stinchcombe, 2017).

Social disorganization is a theory in which it explains the state of the society characterized by ecological differences and cultural effects that shape that nature the communities have their social orders. According to Andresen & Malleson (2011), there are three main ways in which social disorganization is measured. One is the physical status which shows the level of delinquency in the society. Secondly, the measure is the economic status that shows the area with increased industry; hence related to delinquency. Pollution measure shows how population changes the crime rate in an area (Andresen & Malleson, 2011).

Symbolic interaction is a theory that explains that we act according to our interactions with the society. For instance, if one is interacting with a grown-up person or a senior person in the society, he/she will act differently while interacting with age mates. Generally, it means that people will impose on event, subjects, behaviors or objects they are interacting with. The major importance of this theory is that it explains in a sociological manner why people react or behave in different ways while in the different social group. For instance, high school or university student will behave differently and they tend to be more crime-prone in school or when in the group of student that when they are included in a group of adults (Benson & Simpson, 2014).

In Chicago school, Shaw and McKay tried to explain how social conflict affects the rate of the relationship between delinquency and crime. According to the two scholars, areas with high social conflict, especially those near the major towns experienced high delinquency; hence the high rate of crime. In the school of thought, the areas with high conflict brought about by immigration, urbanization, and industrialization affected the crime rate. Those areas with a high level of social disorganization led to social conflict hence social problems that later lead to the high crime rate (Piquero,(Ed.), 2012).

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The theory or the model of the concentric zone was popularly used by park and Ernest Burgess to draw a diagrammatical picture of Chicago city. It demonstrated the way the urban was utilized by the occupant. Additionally, the model tried to give a pictorial representation of an area of different social group occupied in the city. In the model, it was found that richer people lived away from the city while the poor people lived near the city. The zone occupied by the poor was called “Zone of transition”. In conclusion, the theory found that people tend to be in crime because of external social effects such as poverty and population (Pacione, 2013).

Reference list

Andresen, M. A., & Malleson, N. (2011). Testing the stability of crime patterns: implications for theory and policy. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 48(1), 58-82.

Benson, M. L., & Simpson, S. S. (2014). Understanding white-collar crime: An opportunity perspective. Routledge.

Flynn, N. (2017). Criminal behaviour in context: Space, place and desistance from crime. Willan.

Pacione, M. (2013). Urban geography: A global perspective. Routledge.

Piquero, A. R. (Ed.). (2012). Rational choice and criminal behavior: Recent research and future challenges. Routledge.

Reid, S. T. (2015). Crime and criminology. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Stinchcombe, A. L. (2017). Merton’s theory of social structure. In The idea of social structure (pp. 11-33). Routledge.


Tags: University Of Chicago, Chicago School, Study Of Crime