Community Concentrated Disadvantage

A perfect topic to use in transition from our discussion of poverty (motivation) and our discussion of communities (context) is concentrated disadvantage. While poverty at the individual level clearly provides motivation to commit crime, poverty understood at the community level adds a contextual dimension to the influence of poverty on offending. Scholars today agree that concentrated disadvantage is even more deleterious than poverty alone. For example, Wilson (1987) states that the key construct needed to understand the perpetuation of social ills in communities of concentrated disadvantage is “social isolation" Middle-class residents of inner-city, minority neighborhoods increasingly moved elsewhere after World War II, and they took with them the financial and social resources needed to maintain community sources of informal social control, such as churches and civic organizations. As those who were left behind lost their connections to the middle-class, they also lost vital social networks that could connect them to employment opportunities and social services. As a result, they became increasingly isolated and disconnected from mainstream society: “... the combination of unattractive jobs and lack of community norms to reinforce work increases the likelihood that individuals will turn to either underground illegal activity or idleness or both” (Wilson, 1987, p. 61). We note the similarity between strain theories and Wilson’s argument about the relationship between the structural conditions of concentrated disadvantage and the motivation to offend.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >