Welcome to our free-to-use Q&A hub, where students post questions and get help from other students and tutors.

Follow the trail of responses and if you have anything to add please sign up or sign in.

You can ask your own question or look at similar Sociology questions.

Hi Rebecca,

Gladwell has interesting concepts in the Broken windows concept however, looking at this concept from a simplisitc perspective social degredation is reflection on the society that one lives in, simply speaking if the neighbourhood is unkept with damaged buildings covered in Grafitti, Secondary Deviance occurs which results in petty crimes therefore exploring this Criminological view could be of some help. 

I would say that you may need to also look up Malcolm Gladwell's writings, in relation to this. The popularizing of the 'Broken windows' concept also resulted in people having criminal records for minor offences - people having their lives effectively ruined for very petty crimes - all in the name of zero tolerance. As I understand, one of Gladwell's books helped cement the idea - he was asked to apologise for it in a BBC documentary but he refused. (Please research this for yourself though.) This could be classed as 'reading around' though - as your question seems to only require a basic explanation of what BW actually is.

The Broken Window Theory was a notion released in 1982, suggesting visual signs of urban decay and social degeneration could lead to further and actual crime being committed. 

The broken windows referred to would be the image of an estate or area with broken windows as being a derelict and unmaintained area where crime is likely, or perceived to be commonplace. 

The theory proposed areas could reduce more serious crime by maintaining urban environments in both a high quality condition and tackling 'minor' crimes such as graffiti and vandalism stringently and rapidly, helping to avoid an area deteriorating into lawlessness. 

Hi Rebecca,

The broken windows theory looks at tackling the lesser crimes such as vandalism etc., it is believed major crimes result from lesser crimes: people commit lesser crimes and progress on to major ones. In the 1990's it became an influential theory, especially in New York; Bratton began to apply this theory by getting police officers to tackle crime in plain clothes. As a result, crime decreased dramatically and by the time he resigned in 1996, the homicide rate had halved and major crimes were down by almost 40 percent. These resulted from the use of the Broken Windows Theory. 

Hope this helps,


Footer Graphic