Community Criminology

Community Criminology: Fundamentals of Spatial and Temporal Scaling, Ecological Indicators, and Selectivity Bias

Ralph B. Taylor
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Community Criminology
    Book Description:

    For close to a century, the field of community criminology has examined the causes and consequences of community crime and delinquency rates. Nevertheless, there is still a lot we do not know about the dynamics behind these connections. In this book, Ralph Taylor argues that obstacles to deepening our understanding of community/crime links arise in part because most scholars have overlooked four fundamental concerns: how conceptual frames depend on the geographic units and/or temporal units used; how to establish the meaning of theoretically central ecological empirical indicators; and how to think about the causes and consequences of non-random selection dynamics.

    The volume organizes these four conceptual challenges using a common meta-analytic framework. The framework pinpoints critical features of and gaps in current theories about communities and crime, connects these concerns to current debates in both criminology and the philosophy of social science, and sketches the types of theory testing needed in the future if we are to grow our understanding of the causes and consequences of community crime rates. Taylor explains that a common meta-theoretical frame provides a grammar for thinking critically about current theories and simultaneously allows presenting these four topics and their connections in a unified manner. The volume provides an orientation to current and past scholarship in this area by describing three distinct but related community crime sequences involving delinquents, adult offenders, and victims. These sequences highlight community justice dynamics thereby raising questions about frequently used crime indicators in this area of research. A groundbreaking work melding past scholarly practices in criminology with the field's current needs,Community Criminologyis an essential work for criminologists.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-0803-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. 1 Overview
    (pp. 1-24)

    Is there one criminology, or are there many? Suppose we concentrate just on space. Is there one big basket of theories for people, situations, and geographies at spatial scales small (e.g., addresses) and large (e.g., metropolitan areas)? Or are there many different baskets of theories? If there are many, are the theories in different baskets dissimilar in shape and color? Do scholars using theories from one basket talk to those using theories from another basket? Should a theory developed in one basket be transferred to another? Suppose we think about time and thus crime changes. Again, is there one basket...

  5. 2 Three Core Community Crime Sequences
    (pp. 25-68)

    This chapter conceptually defines a key outcome or a key predictor in all community crime models: community crime rates. As used here, these rates refer to attributes and dynamics at any stage in any of three core community crime sequences involving delinquents and delinquency, offenders and offending, or victims and victimization. Although there are exceptions, many researchers interested in crime either as an ecological predictor or outcome have taken crime for granted.¹ In-depth reflection on the ecological processes creating the scores proves rare. Instead, especially if researchers use crime or delinquency data from official sources, they typically announce the crime...

  6. 3 Spatial Scaling I: Relevance and Conceptual Importance
    (pp. 69-101)

    This chapter is the first of three examining spatial scaling and its metatheoretical implications. Spatial scaling, generally, considers how thinking about relevant theoretical processes depends—or does not—on the geographic extent of the units being investigated. It refers to a range of potential concerns which are simultaneously theoretical and methodological. These concerns are typically relevant when

    a researcher examines how indicators of two different concepts connect, and interprets those observed connections, while considering results from a range of research units of varying geographic scale;

    a researcher applies a theoretical model, wholly or in part, to geographic units markedly different...

  7. 4 Spatial Scaling II: Metatheorizing about Community-Crime Linkages
    (pp. 102-119)

    This chapter and the next five each dives into specific conceptual problems afflicting community criminology. The preceding chapters have provided an orienting toolkit. Chapter 1 outlined two ways of thinking about community-crime connections: methodological holism and methodological individualism. Chapter 2 placed three classes of crime and crime-related indicators into broader, ongoing, community-level sequences. Chapter 3 confirmed that aggregating or disaggregating by geographic proximitynecessarilyintroducesbothconceptual and analytic shifts. Two examples in that chapter, almost a century old, supported links between community crime patterns and Short’s macrosocial and microsocial factors and underscored the broad importance of spatial adjacency effects....

  8. 5 Spatial Scaling III: Understanding Place Criminology and Hot Spots
    (pp. 120-145)

    The preceding chapter explained how the boat metamodel organized theoretical dynamics along a macro-to-micro dimension.¹ That dimension was modified to correspond to the geographic scale of the units analyzed. Dynamics at and across different geographic scales were considered, as were adjacency effects. This chapter uses the modified boat metamodel as a lens for examining the assumptions behind the “criminology of place” [669]. The latter reflects “a new concern with micro units of place such as addresses or street segments [streetblocks] or clusters of these micro units of geography. . . . [This work] has generated not only scholarly interest in...

  9. 6 Temporal Scaling I: Cycles and Changes
    (pp. 146-172)

    This chapter is the first of two considering how time operates in community criminology. Relevant temporal scaling issues include the following: (a) How much time must elapse for scores on an ecological, community-level variable to shift significantly for a significant number of units? This is a question about time horizons. (b) If one changing variable is an input and another changing variable is an output, are they bothcapableof changing at comparable rates in the period investigated given the natures of each attribute? Is it possible for the input and output changes to be in phase? This is a...

  10. 7 Temporal Scaling II: A Temporally Dynamic Metamodel
    (pp. 173-202)

    The previous chapter highlighted concerns about time from the perspective of methodological holism. These concerns reveal that some theories in community criminology are underspecified. They either overlook some time questions or make untested assumptions. These time issues are especially critical given the Hawley/Bursik perspective on ecological discontinuities in structure, culture, or crime. Such shifts, if substantial, reflect the redefinition over a period of a community’s ecological niche, that is, a shift in how a community is positioned on that attribute relative to other communities in the ecosystem. Understanding the origins and consequences of these shifts is a critical concern for...

  11. 8 Ecological Indicators: Model Comparisons and Establishing Meaning
    (pp. 203-223)

    In everyday life, we are always making comparisons to determine which option is better.¹ In my own case, although this may be a residue of my short career driving for a messenger service decades ago, I usually consider anticipated travel volume and the number of stop lights when traveling locally and deciding whether to take route A or B to get to my destination. You may have evaluated two or more wireless phone plans recently to decide which was preferable, making a detailed comparison of data charges, coverage, phone features, and other contract elements. Community criminologists similarly make comparisons. Take...

  12. 9 Selectivity Bias: Metamodels, Selection Effects, and Neighborhood Effects
    (pp. 224-255)

    Over five seasons ofThe Wire, David Simon’s Baltimore City–based TV series, viewers saw characters returning to their homes, neighborhoods, families, and friends after significant periods in jail or prison.¹ Writ large, the series captures the terrible human toll on city life exacted by the decline of manufacturing in the US economy [732]. In season 3, Dennis “Cutty” Wise is released from prison, having served fourteen years on a murder conviction. Cutty’s reentry arc, continuing over the next two seasons, involves trying to find work; opting to go back to work for Avon Barksdale, a high-level drug dealer; taking...

  13. 10 Integration and Metatheoretical Concerns: Is Progress Possible?
    (pp. 256-266)

    This closing chapter summarizes some of the broader purposes of the volume. It then connects some of the main points highlighted in the volume with specific purposes. Further, it considers, in the very broadest terms, why this approach rather than another one? Alternative metatheoretical approaches are noted along with reasons for not adopting them. Third, a final section looks forward. In part, this section is a response to what is sure to be the reaction of many readers to the materials in this volume: don’t you think you’re asking a little much? I readily admit that I am asking a...

    (pp. 267-268)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 269-282)
    (pp. 283-324)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 325-328)
    (pp. 329-329)