Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

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Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

Module 6: Theories of Community Maintenance, Building and Practices


In this module, you will discuss various theories explaining the reasons behind some community safety issues and how to solve problems associated with community maintenance and community safety practices.  You will discuss models that will better help you understand why groups and individuals do certain things (graffiti, etc.) and the importance of working collaboratively with other agencies in your community.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe theories of community maintenance – Broken Window Theory, Differential Association Theory, Social Control Theory and Labelling Theory
  • Discuss the importance of working collaboratively with other agencies, cities or districts



  • Topic 1: Community Maintenance Theories


Assignment 4: Review and Amend a Bylaw (15%)

Assignment 5: Prepare for, and Present Findings in Class (15%)

Note: You will work with your Base Groups for Assignments 4 and 5.

Module 6: Theories of Community Maintenance, Building and Practices

Topic 1: Community Maintenance Theories

In this topic, we will discuss some theories explaining various perspectives influencing and attributing to the causes of disorder, delinquency and lower level crimes and their impact on the local environment (neighbourhoods) such as graffiti and antisocial behaviours.

Broken Window Theory

In a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article titled “Broken Windows”, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling argued that disorder in a community, if left uncorrected, undercuts residents’ own efforts to maintain their homes and neighborhoods and control unruly behavior. “If a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired,” they wrote, “all the rest of the windows will soon be broken… One unrepaired window is a signal that no one cares, so breaking more windows costs nothing… Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder.”  If disorder goes unchecked, the theory holds, a vicious cycle begins. Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

The authors suggest that this ‘unchecked disorder’ kindles a fear of crime among residents, who respond by staying behind locked doors. Subsequently, their involvement in the neighborhood declines, and people begin to ignore rowdy and threatening behavior in public. They also cease to exercise social regulation over little things like litter on the street, loitering strangers, or truant schoolchildren. In short, Wilson and Kelling suggest, when law-abiding eyes stop watching the streets, the social order breaks down and criminals move in.

“Stable neighborhoods can change in a few months to jungles,” declare Wilson and Kelling.

Disorder also can have dire economic consequences. Shoppers will shun an area they perceive as being “out of control”. One study analyzing crime in 30 different areas found that a high level of disorder of a neighborhood — more than such factors as income level, resident turnover, or racial makeup — was the best indicator of an area’s lack of safety.

Differential Association Theory

Differential Association Theory was developed by Edwin Sutherland and it proposes that through interaction with others, individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior. This theory is not designed to take into account all levels of crime, but that of street level (neighbourhood) disorder. This theory is the most talked about of the Learning Theories of Deviance and focuses on how individuals learn to become criminals, but does not concern itself with why they become criminals.

Sutherland’s theory departs from the pathological perspective and biological perspective by attributing the cause of crime to the social context of individuals. He rejected biological determinism and the extreme individualism of psychiatry, as well as economic explanations of crime. The principle of differential association asserts that a person becomes delinquent because of an “excess” of definitions favourable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law. In other words, criminal behaviour emerges when one is exposed to more social messages favouring conduct than pro-social messages (Sutherland, 1947). The following summarizes the key points of the theory:

  1. Criminal behavior is learned: This means that criminal behavior is not inherited, as such; also the person who is not already trained in crime does not invent criminal behavior.
  2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. This communication is verbal in many cases but includes gestures.
  3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups. Negatively, this means that impersonal communications, such as movies or newspapers, play a relatively unimportant part in the committing of criminal behavior.
  4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes (a) techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very simple; (b) the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.
  5. The specific direction of the motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable.
  6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law. This is the principle of differential association. When people become criminal, they do so not only because of contacts with criminal patterns but also because of isolation from anti-criminal patterns. Negatively, this means that association which are neutral so far as crime is concerned have little or no effect on the genesis of criminal behaviour.
  7. Differential association may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. Priority seems to be important principally through its selective influence and intensity has to do with such things as the prestige of the source of a criminal or anti-criminal pattern and with emotional reactions related to the association. These modalities would be rated in quantitative form and mathematical ratio but development of formula in this sense has not been developed and would be very difficult.
  8. The process of learning criminal behaviour by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning.
  9. Negatively, this means that the learning of criminal behavior is not restricted to the process of imitation. A person who is seduced, for instance, learns criminal behavior by association, but this would not be ordinarily described as imitation.
  10. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values. (Sutherland, 1974: 75-76)


Module 6: Theories of Community Maintenance, Building and Practices

Topic 1: Community Maintenance Theories

Social Control Theory

Social Control Theory proposes that people’s relationships, commitments, values, norms, and beliefs encourage them not to break the law. Thus, if moral codes are internalized and individuals are tied into, and have a stake in, their wider community, they will voluntarily limit their propensity to commit deviant acts. This theory seeks to understand the ways in which it is possible to reduce the likelihood of criminality developing in individuals. It does not consider motivational issues, simply stating that human beings may choose to engage in a wide range of activities, unless the range is limited by the processes of socialization and social learning. Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

We will consider two perspectives related to this theory: those of Ivan Nye and David Matza.

Nye (1958) elaborated on the social control theory of delinquency, by asking the following questions:

  • Is delinquency produced? What makes people commit delinquent acts?
  • Is crime prevented? What keeps people from committing delinquent acts?

Nye’s theory focused on the family as a source of control and specified different types of control:

  • Direct control = punishments and rewards
  • Indirect control = affectionate identification with non-criminals
  • Internal control = conscience or sense of guilt

Youth may be directly controlled through constraints imposed by parents, limiting the opportunity for delinquency, as well as through parental rewards and punishments. However, they may be constrained when free from direct control by their anticipation of parental disapproval (indirect control), or through the development of a conscience, an internal constraint on behavior. The focus on the family as a source of control was in marked contrast to the emphasis on economic circumstances as a source of criminogenic motivation at the time. Although he acknowledged motivational forces by stating that, “…some delinquent behavior results from a combination of positive learning and weak and ineffective social control” (1958: 4), he adopted a control-theory position when he proposed that, “most delinquent behavior is the result of insufficient social control…”. Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

Sykes and Matza (1957) developed the analysis of ‘neutralization’ model. They believed that there was little difference between delinquents and non-delinquents, with delinquents engaging in non-delinquent behavior most of the time. They also asserted that most delinquents eventually opt out of the delinquent lifestyle as they grow older, suggesting that there is a basic code of morality in place but that the young are able to deviate from by using techniques of neutralization, i.e., they can temporarily suspend the applicability of norms by developing attitudes “favorable to deviant behavior”. The five common techniques were:

  1. Denial of responsibility (I couldn’t help myself)
  2. Denial of injury (Nobody got hurt)
  3. Denial of victim (They had it coming)
  4. Condemnation of the condemners (What right do they have to criticize me?)
  5. Appeal to higher loyalties (I did it for someone else)

Later Matza (1964) developed his theory of “drift” which proposed that people used neutralization to drift in and out of conventional behavior, taking a temporary break from moral restraints. Matza based his “drift” theory upon four observations:

  1. Delinquents express guilt over their criminal acts
  2. Delinquents often respect law-abiding individuals
  3. A line is drawn between those they can victimize and those they cannot
  4. Delinquents are not immune to the demands of conforming

Although Drift Theory has not been widely supported by empirical tests, it remains a key idea in criminology despite not answering why some conform and others don’t.


Module 6: Theories of Community Maintenance, Building and Practices

Topic 1: Community Maintenance Theories

Labeling Theory

Labeling theory holds that deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norms. The theory is concerned with how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. It is associated with the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. Unwanted descriptors or categorizations – including terms related to deviance, disability or diagnosis of a mental disorder – may be rejected on the basis that they are merely “labels”, often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. A stigma is defined as a powerfully negative label that changes a person’s self-concept and social identity. Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

Edwin Lemert developed the idea of primary and secondary deviation as a way to explain the process of labeling. Primary deviance is any general deviance before the deviant is labelled as such. Secondary deviance is any action that takes place after primary deviance as a reaction to the institutions. For example the primary deviance is the experience connected to the overt behavior, say drug addiction and its practical demands and consequences. Secondary deviation is the role created to deal with society’s condemnation of the behavior.


Theories of deviance and societal disorganization can be very complex, and it is important to have some grasp on them in order to make sense of why laws are created to regulate societal behaviour. These theories are crucial to begin to formulate understanding why some people and/or groups choose or are guided into breaking socially constructed laws and entering into deviant behaviour. These theories also help us to understand  the impacts of people’s and/or group’s failure to maintain an agreed-upon and maintained level of societal order. While the theoretical positions described above can be daunting, what should be taken from all the theoretical positions is that while properly, fairly enforced rules are beneficial to the community, there will always be persons or groups which will not subscribe to the majority norms.

Module 6: Theories of Community Maintenance, Building and Practices

What is collaboration?

Collaboration is the working together with two or more persons or groups to achieve a goal. While this seems as though it is a simplistic definition, in reality it is more about sharing information, support and realizing shared goals amongst agencies and interest groups. It is about determining shared organizational goals which may be developed or initiated, shift(s), completed, and regularly evaluated on the basis of objectives developed by all those included within the decision-making process. Given diminishing resources, this method of making decisions and moving forward toward mutually-agreed-upon goals can allow for effective use of resources. Module 6 Assignments 4 and 5

A community ecosystem is a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. See Figure 1. As an individual you may influence your community through your involvement and participation in your community ecosystem. This is achieved by using your skills, knowledge and attributes to impact your circle of influence, organization, community and maybe nation which requires developing collaborative skills.

Collaboration involves relationships with:

  • Your local police
  • Your local social agencies
  • Your local business community
  • Non-governmental groups

Working collaboratively includes Community Safety Initiatives such as Community Partners, Neighbourhood Watch and Citizens on Patrol. Think about how municipalities can work together to address community maintenance issues.


Assignment 4

Assignment 4: Review and Amend a Bylaw

You will work with your Base Group for this activity.  It is due at the end of this week (midnight on Sunday, end of Week 6).  It is worth 15% of your overall course value.  Each Base Group will have a different case to work from:



  1. As a group, review your assigned bylaw and identify the sections that you feel may be difficult to enforce.  Provide justification for why you identified the sections you did.
  2. Re-write the sections so the bylaw can be enforced more easily.  In making these changes, ensure that you are not in contravention of any other acts, and refer to acts that you think may impact this bylaw.

The completed assignment should be submitted to your Instructor using the drop box function. One member of the group should submit on behalf of the group.  Remember to list the names of each group member.  You can find the drop box by clicking on the Submit Assignments title in the left navigation bar

Assignment 5

You will work with your Base Group for this activity.  It is due on Day 2 of the upcoming face-to-face component of this course.  It is worth 15% of your overall course value.  Each Base Group will use the same case they were assigned in Assignment 4.


  1. After completing Assignment 4, your group should prepare a 15 minute presentation that will be delivered on Day 2 of the face-to-face component of the course.
  2. Your presentation should highlight the following from Assignment 4:
    • A brief overview of your case
    • The key areas that your group identified as being difficult to enforce
    • The reasons that you felt each area was difficult to enforce
    • The suggested amendments to the sections to make it more enforceable

Every member should participate in the presentation.

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