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The Urban World, 9 th Ed. J. John Palen. Chapter 8: The Social Environment of Metro Areas: Strangers, Crowding, Homelessness, and Crime Introduction Dealing.

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Presentation on theme: "The Urban World, 9 th Ed. J. John Palen. Chapter 8: The Social Environment of Metro Areas: Strangers, Crowding, Homelessness, and Crime Introduction Dealing."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Urban World, 9 th Ed. J. John Palen

2 Chapter 8: The Social Environment of Metro Areas: Strangers, Crowding, Homelessness, and Crime Introduction Dealing with Strangers Codes of Urban Behavior Defining Community Categories of Local Communities Density and Crowding Homelessness Urban Crime Summary

3 Introduction How do people outside their own defended neighborhood of “turf” cope with large numbers of other people whom they do not know? How do we learn to operate in an urban world of strangers in which we are largely anonymous?

4 Dealing With Strangers We cope by identifying strangers on the basis of two factors – Appearance – Spatial location

5 Codes of Urban Behavior Neighboring – Large-city dwellers know fewer of their neighbors than do residents of smaller place – Persons who neighbor are likely to be: Raising a family Home during the day Older and more settled Homogenous

6 Neighbors and Just Neighbors – Three conditions encourage “real” neighboring Functional interdependence Preexistence of other relationships and bonds Because they have fewer alternatives – Robert Putnam suggests that recent decades have witnessed declining membership in civic and social organizations, and an erosion of social capital – Satisfaction with neighborhood life cuts across owners and renters in all regions

7 Defining Community Community has become an elastic social and theoretical concept holding diverse meanings For the Chicago School, community was often a synonym for urban neighborhood There is currently no consensus on the significance of community in modern social life

8 Categories of Local Communities Defended neighborhood is an area that residents feel is their turf The community of limited liability emphasizes the voluntary and limited involvement of residents in the local community The expanded community of limited liability is more fragmented and diffuse than the community of limited liability. It is a larger area composed of multiple communities The contrived or conscious community is an area consciously set up to create a community image

9 Density and Crowding Crowding Research – High density and crowding produce a long list of physical and behavioral pathologies – One’s social background and experience play a major role in how “high density” is defined – Contrary to the common assumption, density or crowding does not necessarily have either a negative of positive impact on urban life

10 Practical Implications – Rather than trying to escape crowds, people move toward areas of highest per-person density – Use of findings to produce more livable spaces in New York City’s commercial zoning practices

11 Homelessness Characteristics of the Homeless – 66 percent of the homeless are single – 68 percent are male – 80 percent are aged 25 to 54 – 28 percent have less than a high school education – 23 percent are veterans – 41 percent white, 40 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic, and 9 percent other – One-third are children

12 Social Problems – The saying that the homeless are “just like you and me” is not accurate – Most homeless have high levels of social disabilities – Four out of 10 street people admit to having spent time in jail – 62 percent have problems with alcohol – 58 percent have drug abuse problems – 57 percent have mental-health problems – There is a decreasing tolerance for street people, especially those seen as a public nuisance

13 Disappearing SRO Housing – The number of single-room-occupancy (SRO) unites has sharply decreased by over 80 percent in the last two decades – During the Reagan and senior Bush years ( ), federally subsidized programs were cut a massive 70 percent – Some homeless have created their own alternative social communities

14 Urban Crime Crime and Perceptions of Crime People’s perceptions of what is happening and the reality of what is actually happening differ considerably Urban crime between 1993 and 2010 experienced not increases but sharp declines Crime and cities do not necessarily go together Broken Windows Theory Suggest that the best way to control crime is to prevent it, and the best way to prevent crime is not by concentrating police efforts on solving major crimes, but focusing on preventing minor quality-of-life offenses Argues that people fear a sense of disorder, and by creating a sense of order in a neighborhood crime can be prevented

15 Crime and City Size The belief that the larger the city, the higher the crime rate is an urban myth The United States’ homicide rate is higher than that of other developed countries The highest crime rates by a good margin are found in cities of 250,000 to 500,000 population Crime and Male Youth 45 percent of all crimes, except murder, are committed by people under 18, and three- quarters are committed by those under 25 Crime is also still largely a male activity

16 Crime and Race – Historically, poor newcomer groups to the city have used crime as an alternate route to social mobility – Whites mostly commit crimes against whites and blacks against blacks – Blacks are more than five times as likely to be homicide victims as are whites; today, one of every 68 black males can expect to be murdered during the course of a lifetime – African males also have the highest probability of being an offender – This often leads to racial profiling

17 Crime Variations within Cities Crime rates tend to be highest in central-city neighborhoods and to decrease as one moves toward the periphery Inner-city areas that have not been invaded by disadvantaged newcomers are often among the most stable, low-crime areas in the city Crime in the Suburbs – Crime rates in the suburbs are increasing – Suburban crime rates tend to be less violent than city crime – Affluent suburbs keep crime rates down by restricting certain economic activities and populations


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