Honors | Crime in Urban Spaces (CJUS)
P300 | 25939 | Leon Pettiway
This course provides students with an overview of the research
devoted to crime in urban spaces from both a geographical and
cultural perspective. As such, the course considers the intersection
of urban spatial geography and cultural criminology, and in that
regard, it centers on the structures of urban places given their
peculiar social, economic, and demographic characteristics and
arrangements. The role of urbanization must be discussed and the
consequences of urban growth and decline must be examined in order
to understand the impact of urban spatial structure on crime. Most
of all, the course will be driven by the work of cultural
criminologists and the work of new criminologists, and students will
read several ethnographies that illuminate the context of crime and
criminals from a cultural perspective. Lectures will highlight the
more theoretical issues associated with crime in urban spaces while
our discussions will attempt to integrate our readings into a
cultural understanding of doing crime in urban spaces. Some of the
issues covered in this course include:
1. The role segregation (i.e., income, age, and racial segregation)
plays in affecting individual behavior in urban spaces. In that
regard, we recognize the significance of differentials in racial
composition, age, sex, and income as important factors in explaining
the incidence of crime in urban areas. This is because urban areas
are the seed beds for establishing loci of power and conflict for
scare resources and self-interested desires.
2. Drug use has devastated many urban areas; therefore, it is
important to consider the extent and the impact of drug use in urban
3. City streets and neighborhood life frame opportunities for crime
and crime participation. Therefore, it is important to consider the
distribution and the selection of targets of opportunity as factors
that influence the mobility of offenders in space. But there are
other sites that inform our understanding of crime in urban spaces.
For example, Purnima Mankehar "show how the stores can serve as a
space of familiarity reminding shoppers of the range of homelands
associated with the Indian subcontinent. . .The store may also
represent an extension of patriarchal control, perpetuating an
ominous form of surveillance from the point of view of women who may
be victims of domestic violence" (Kane 2004:312-313).
4. The course also considers environmental design and its influence
on the incidence and the prevention of crime in urban areas.
Some Considered Texts:
Anderson, Elijah (2000) Code of the Street. New York: W. W. Norton
Becker, Howard S. (1963) Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of
Deviance. New York: Free Press.
Bourgeois, Philippe (2003) In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El
Barrio. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Ferrell, Jeff and Hamm, Mark S. (1998) Ethnography at the Edge :
Crime, Deviance, and Field Research. Boston: Northeastern University
Fleisher, Mark S. (1995) Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street
Criminals. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Messerschmidt, James W. (2004) Flesh and Blood : Adolescent Gender
Diversity and Violence. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Oliver, William (1994) The Violent Social World of Black Men. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Sanders, William (1994) Gangbangs and Drive-Bys: Grounded Culture
and Juvenile Gang Violence. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.
Sharif, Jagna Wojcicka (1998) King Kong on 4th Street: Families and
the Violence of Poverty on the Lower East Side. Boulder, CO: West
Wright, Richard T. and Decker, Scott H. (1997) Armed Robbers in
Action. Boston: Northeastern University