Socio-spatial attributes of social problems: The case of crime and delinquency

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This article examines three hypotheses: (1) Socio-spatial structures and processes, like segregation, succession, and specialization, help explain the emergence of social problems. (2) "Space" is embedded - implicitly or explicitly - in every sociological approach to crime or delinquency. (3) Its explicit consideration increases the explanatory power of these approaches. Different dimensions, aspects or qualities of space are distinguished in order to dispel the terminological confusion that often surrounds "space". Spatial distances or units may include costs, symbols, of power. The relevance of these aspects for different approaches or criminal sociology like anomie, disorganization, opportunity structure, and labelling are demonstrated, and the implications of these arguments for the development of sociological theories, as well as societal, political and planning practices are also considered. Most empirical examples are drawn from recent sociological research in West Germany. Such an approach to integrate urban and criminal sociology can be used to draw conclusions for urban planning as is shown in a final passage: Desegregation and functional diversification of spatial units are recommended as strategies which may diminish crime and delinquency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-181
Number of pages19
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1984
Externally publishedYes


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