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Extracommunity Dynamics and the Ecology of Delinquency

NCJ Number
American Journal of Sociology Volume: 92 Issue: 4 Dated: (January 1987) Pages: 775-787
Date Published
13 pages
This paper examines the effects of racial change in adjoining areas on local delinquency rates, using referrals of adolescent males aged 10 to 17 to the juvenile court between 1960 and 1970 from 74 Chicago communities.
Shaw and McKay grounded their ecological model of delinquency exclusively in the dynamics of local communities. Although recent developments in human ecology have emphasized communities' adaptation to external contingencies, this internal emphasis still dominates criminology. The analytical model described in this paper has three constructs that reflect changes in the communities' internal composition: household characteristics (owner-occupied versus rental, unemployment rate, and percentage of households averaging more than one person per room); racial/ethnic composition; and residential stability. The model's fourth variable reflects unexpected changes in the racial composition of nearby areas, an external construct. The results suggest that such external processes significantly affect local rates of delinquency and may explain why some stable, organized communities nevertheless have high delinquency rates. 2 tables, 6 footnotes, and over 20 references. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1987