Broken Windows Theory

The broken windows theory of crime debuted in March 1982 in an article published in The Atlantic. The architects of this original and controversial theory were James Q. Wilson, a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and George L. Kelling, a criminologist and professor at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

The term broken windows is a metaphor for social disorder. The central principle of the theory is that serious crimes are caused by disorder that thrives unchecked in urban neighborhoods. If disorderly conduct, that is, the broken window, is not repaired immediately, it becomes an invitation to commit additional disorderly conduct, that is, to break more windows. This disorderly conduct includes deviant behavior such as homeless people sleeping in alleyways, groups of ...

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