1932

Abstract

An important criminological controversy concerns the proper causal relationships between disorder, informal social control, and crime. The broken windows thesis posits that neighborhood disorder increases crime directly and indirectly by undermining neighborhood informal social control. Theories of collective efficacy argue that the association between neighborhood disorder and crime is spurious because of the confounding variable informal social control. We review the recent empirical research on this question, which uses disparate methods, including field experiments and different models for observational data. To evaluate the causal claims made in these studies, we use a potential outcomes framework of causality. We conclude that, although there is some evidence for both broken windows and informal control theories, there is little consensus in the present research literature. Furthermore, at present, most studies do not establish causality in a strong way.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011419-041541
2020-01-13
2024-06-15
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/criminol/3/1/annurev-criminol-011419-041541.html?itemId=/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011419-041541&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Literature Cited

  1. Allison PD, Williams R, Moral-Benito E 2017. Maximum likelihood for cross-lagged panel models with fixed effects. Socius 3:1–17
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Angrist JD, Krueger AB. 2001. Instrumental variables and the search for identification: from supply and demand to natural experiments. J. Econ. Perspect. 15:469–85
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bandura A. 1986. Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bellair PE. 2000. Informal surveillance and street crime: a complex relationship. Criminology 38:1137–70
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bellair PE, Browning CR. 2010. Contemporary disorganization research: an assessment and further test of the systemic model of neighborhood crime. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 47:4496–521
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Berger J, Hevenstone D. 2016. Norm enforcement in the city revisited: an international field experiment of altruistic punishment, norm maintenance, and broken windows. Ration. Soc. 28:3299–319
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bielby WT, Matsueda RL. 1991. Statistical power in nonrecursive linear models. Sociol. Methodol. 21:167–97
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Boggess LN, Maskaly J. 2014. The spatial context of the disorder-crime relationship in a study of Reno neighborhoods. Soc. Sci. Res. 43:168–83
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Braga AA, Welsh BC, Schnell C 2015. Can policing disorder reduce crime? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 52:4567–88
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Branas CC, Kondo MC, Murphy SM, South EC, Polsky D, MacDonald JM 2016. Urban blight remediation as a cost-beneficial solution to firearm violence. Am. J. Public Health 106:122158–64
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Branas CC, South E, Kondo MC, Hohl BC, Bourgois P et al. 2018. Citywide cluster randomized trial to restore blighted vacant land and its effects on violence, crime, and fear. PNAS 115:122946–51
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Browning CR, Dietz RD, Feinberg SL 2004. The paradox of social organization: networks, collective efficacy, and violent crime in urban neighborhoods. Soc. Forces 83:2503–34
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Bruinsma GJN, Pauwels LJR, Weerman FM, Bernasco W 2013. Social disorganization, social capital, collective efficacy and the spatial distribution of crime and offenders: an empirical test of six neighbourhood models for a Dutch city. Br. J. Criminol. 53:5942–63
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Cialdini RB. 2003. Crafting normative messages to protect the environment. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 12:4105–9
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Cohen LE, Felson M. 1979. Social change and crime rate trends: a routine activity approach. Am. Sociol. Rev. 44:4588–608
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Coleman JS. 1990. Foundations of Social Theory Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Diekmann A, Przepiorka W, Rauhut H 2015. Lifting the veil of ignorance: an experiment on the contagiousness of norm violations. Ration. Soc. 27:3309–33
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Engel C, Beckenkamp M, Glöckner A, Irlenbusch B, Hennig-Schmidt H et al. 2014. First impressions are more important than early intervention: qualifying broken windows theory in the lab. Int. Rev. Law Econ. 37:126–36
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Fagan J, Davies G. 2000. Street stops and broken windows: terry, race, and disorder in New York City. Fordham Urban Law J 28:457–504
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gault M, Silver E. 2008. Spuriousness or mediation? Broken windows according to Sampson and Raudenbush (1999). J. Crim. Justice 36:3240–43
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Greene WH. 2003. Econometric Analysis Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 5th ed..
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Harcourt BE. 1998. Reflecting on the subject: a critique of the social influence conception of deterrence, the broken windows theory, and order-maintenance policing New York style. Mich. Law Rev. 97:2291–389
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Harcourt BE, Ludwig J. 2006. Broken windows: new evidence from New York City and a five-city social experiment. Univ. Chic. Law Rev. 73:271–320
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Hinkle JC. 2015. Emotional fear of crime versus perceived safety and risk: implications for measuring “fear” and testing the broken windows thesis. Am. J. Crim. Justice 40:1147–68
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Hipp JR. 2007. Block, tract, and levels of aggregation: neighborhood structure and crime and disorder as a case in point. Am. Sociol. Rev. 72:5659–80
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Hipp JR. 2010. Resident perceptions of crime and disorder: How much is “bias”, and how much is social environment differences. Criminology 48:2475–508
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hipp JR. 2016. Collective efficacy: How is it conceptualized, how is it measured, and does it really matter for understanding perceived neighborhood crime and disorder. J. Crim. Justice 46:32–44
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hipp JR, Wickes R. 2017. Violence in urban neighborhoods: a longitudinal study of collective efficacy and violent crime. J. Quant. Criminol. 33:4783–808
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Holland PW. 1986. Statistics and causal inference. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 81:396945–60
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Imbens GW, Rubin DB. 2015. Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Behavioral Sciences: An Introduction New York: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Keizer K, Lindenberg S, Steg L 2008. The spreading of disorder. Science 322:59081681–85
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Keizer K, Lindenberg S, Steg L 2011. The reversal effect of prohibition signs. Group Process. Intergroup Relat. 14:5681–88
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Keizer K, Lindenberg S, Steg L 2013. The importance of demonstratively restoring order. PLOS ONE 8:6e65137
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Kelling GL, Coles CM. 1997. Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities New York: Touchstone
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Keuschnigg M, Wolbring T. 2015. Disorder, social capital, and norm violation: three field experiments on the broken windows thesis. Ration. Soc. 27:196–126
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Kirk DS. 2015. A natural experiment of the consequences of concentrating former prisoners in the same neighborhoods. PNAS 112:226943–48
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Kling JR, Ludwig J, Katz LF 2005. Neighborhood effects on crime for female and male youth: evidence from a randomized housing voucher experiment. Q. J. Econ. 120:187–130
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Kondo MC, Andreyeva E, South EC, MacDonald JM, Branas CC 2018. Neighborhood interventions to reduce violence. Annu. Rev. Public Health 39:253–71
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Kubrin CE. 2008. Making order of disorder: a call for conceptual clarity. Criminol. Public Policy 7:2203–13
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Lieberson S. 1985. Making It Count: The Improvement of Social Research and Theory Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Liska AE, Warner BD. 1991. Functions of crime: a paradoxical process. Am. J. Sociol. 96:61441–63
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Markowitz FE, Bellair PE, Liska AE, Liu J 2001. Extending social disorganization theory: modeling the relationships between cohesion, disorder, and fear. Criminology 39:2293–319
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Matsueda RL. 2013. Rational choice research in criminology: a multi-level framework. Handbook of Rational Choice Social Research R Wittek, TAB Snijders, V Nee283–321 Stanford, CA: Stanf. Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Matsueda RL. 2017. Toward an analytical criminology: the micro-macro problem, causal mechanisms, and public policy. Criminology 55:3493–519
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Matsueda RL, Drakulich KM. 2016. Measuring collective efficacy: a multilevel measurement model for nested data. Sociol. Methods Res. 45:2191–230
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Mazerolle L, Wickes R, McBroom J 2010. Community variations in violence: the role of social ties and collective efficacy in comparative context. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 47:13–30
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Morenoff JD, Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW 2001. Neighborhood inequality, collective efficacy, and the spatial dynamics of urban violence. Criminology 39:3517–58
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Morgan SL, Winship C. 2015. Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2nd ed..
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Nagin DS, Sampson RJ. 2019. The real gold standard: measuring counterfactual worlds that matter most to social science and policy. Annu. Rev. Criminol. 2:123–45
    [Google Scholar]
  50. O'Brien DT, Farrell C, Welsh BC 2019. Looking through broken windows: The impact of neighborhood disorder on aggression and fear of crime is an artifact of research design. Annu. Rev. Criminol. 2:53–71
    [Google Scholar]
  51. O'Brien DT, Kauffman RA. 2013. Broken windows and low adolescent prosociality: not cause and consequence, but co-symptoms of low collective efficacy. Am. J. Community Psychol. 51:3–4359–69
    [Google Scholar]
  52. O'Brien DT, Sampson RJ. 2015. Public and private spheres of neighborhood disorder: assessing pathways to violence using large-scale digital records. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 52:4486–510
    [Google Scholar]
  53. O'Brien DT, Sampson RJ, Winship C 2015. Ecometrics in the age of big data: measuring and assessing “broken windows” using large-scale administrative records. Sociol. Methodol. 45:1101–47
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Rosenbaum PR, Rubin DB. 1983. Assessing sensitivity to an unobserved binary covariate in an observational study with binary outcome. J. R. Stat. Soc. B 45:2212–18
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Rubin DB. 1986. Comment. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 81:396961–62
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Rubin DB. 2006. Causal inference through potential outcomes and principal stratification: application to studies with “censoring” due to death. Stat. Sci. 21:3299–309
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Sampson RJ. 2008. Moving to inequality: Neighborhood effects and experiments meet social structure. Am. J. Sociol. 114:1189–231
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Sampson RJ. 2012. Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Sampson RJ, Groves WB. 1989. Community structure and crime: testing social-disorganization theory. Am. J. Sociol. 94:4774–802
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Sampson RJ, Morenoff JD, Earls F 1999. Beyond social capital: spatial dynamics of collective efficacy for children. Am. Sociol. Rev. 64:5633–60
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW. 1999. Systematic social observation of public spaces: a new look at disorder in urban neighborhoods. Am. J. Sociol. 105:3603–51
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW. 2004. Seeing disorder: neighborhood stigma and the social construction of “broken windows.”. Soc. Psychol. Q. 67:4319–42
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW, Earls F 1997. Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science 277:5328918–24
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Sampson RJ, Wikström P-OH. 2008. The social order of violence in Chicago and Stockholm neighborhoods: a comparative inquiry. Order, Conflict, and Violence SN Kalyvas, I Shapiro, T Masoud 97–119 Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  65. Shaw CR, McKay HD. 1931. Report on the Causes of Crime Washington, DC: Gov. Print. Off
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Shaw CR, McKay HD. 1969. Juvenile Delinquency in Urban Areas Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press. Revis. Ed
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Skogan WG. 1990. Disorder and Decline: Crime and the Spiral of Decay in American Neighborhoods New York: Free Press
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Skogan WG. 2015. Disorder and decline: the state of research. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 52:4464–85
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Sobel ME. 2006. What do randomized studies of housing mobility demonstrate? Causal inference in the face of interference. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 101:4761398–407
    [Google Scholar]
  70. Sobel ME. 2012. Does marriage boost men's wages?: Identification of treatment effects in fixed effects regression models for panel data. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 107:498521–29
    [Google Scholar]
  71. St. Jean PKB 2007. Pockets of Crime: Broken Windows, Collective Efficacy, and the Criminal Point of View Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press
    [Google Scholar]
  72. Steenbeek W, Hipp JR. 2011. A longitudinal test of social disorganization theory: feedback effects among cohesion, social control, and disorder. Criminology 49:3833–71
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Taylor RB. 1996. Neighborhood responses to disorder and local attachments: the systemic model of attachment, social disorganization, and neighborhood use value. Sociol. Forum 11:141–74
    [Google Scholar]
  74. Taylor RB. 2001. Breaking Away from Broken Windows: Baltimore Neighborhoods and the Nationwide Fight against Crime, Grime, Fear, and Decline Boulder, CO: Westview Press
    [Google Scholar]
  75. Taylor RB. 2015. Community Criminology: Fundamentals of Spatial and Temporal Scaling, Ecological Indicators, and Selectivity Bias New York: NYU Press
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Volker B. 2017. Revisiting broken windows: the role of neighborhood and individual characteristics in reaction to disorder cues. Sociol. Sci. 4:528–51
    [Google Scholar]
  77. Weisburd D, Hinkle JC, Braga AA, Wooditch A 2015. Understanding the mechanisms underlying broken windows policing: the need for evaluation evidence. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 52:4589–608
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Wheeler AP. 2017. The effect of 311 calls for service on crime in D.C. at microplaces. Crime Delinquency 64:141882–903
    [Google Scholar]
  79. Wheeler AP, Kim D-Y, Phillips SW 2018. The effect of housing demolitions on crime in Buffalo, New York. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 55:3390–424
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Wicherts JM, Bakker M. 2014. Broken windows, mediocre methods, and substandard statistics. Group Process. Intergroup Relat. 17:3388–403
    [Google Scholar]
  81. Wickes R, Hipp JR. 2018. The spatial and temporal dynamics of neighborhood informal social control and crime. Soc. Forces 97:1277–308
    [Google Scholar]
  82. Wilson JQ, Kelling GL 1982. Broken windows. The Atlantic March. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Woodward J. 2003. Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation New York: Oxford Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Wooldridge JM. 2010. Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2nd ed..
    [Google Scholar]
  85. Xu Y, Fiedler ML, Flaming KH 2005. Discovering the impact of community policing: the broken windows thesis, collective efficacy, and citizens’ judgment. J. Res. Crime Delinquency 42:2147–86
    [Google Scholar]
  86. Yang S-M. 2010. Assessing the spatial-temporal relationship between disorder and violence. J. Quant. Criminol. 26:1139–63
    [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011419-041541
Loading
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011419-041541
Loading

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error