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The criminal class and the ecology of crime

Die kriminelle Klasse und die Ökologie des Verbrechens
[journal article]

Weinberger, Barbara

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Abstract Der vorliegende Beitrag diskutiert die Entstehung des Begriffs der 'kriminellen Klasse' im England des 19.Jahrhunderts und versucht seine Bedeutung und Realität auf der lokalen Ebene (stadtökologische Perspektive) zu konkretisieren. Die Daten stammen aus Birmingham und zwei Stichproben einer Volksbefragung von 1871. Die regionale (stadtteilspezifische) Verteilung der Kriminalitätsraten geht aus den vorliegenden Tabellen schlagend hervor (Segregationseffekte). Die Autorin untersucht weiterhin, welche Funktion diese 'areas' für die Ökonomie der Stadt hatten und wie die Behörden mit diesem Problem umgingen. (pmb)

'The paper discusses the rise of the concept of a criminal class and seeks to analyse its reality at the local level. To this end it investigates the socio-economic characteristics of areas housing a high proportion of people who appeared before the courts in a late Victorian English city, and demonstrates what role and function these areas and their inhabitants fulfilled. The basis for the study is a sample drawn from defendants appearing in the Birmingham magistrates court over selected years. Three areas housing a high proportion of criminals were identified from the addresses of the defendants. Two further samples, based on the 1871 census, made clear the nature and extent of these areas, which were labelled the lodging house, Irish and canalside (or red light) districts respectively, according to their defining and differentiating characteristics. The evidence for the existence and nature of these areas and of the defendants who lived there is presented in statistical and tabular form, after which the discussion moves on to consider the way in which such areas functioned within the economy of the city and how they were dealt with, and regarded, by the authorities.' (author's abstract)
Keywords Great Britain; criminality; segregation; social class; social stratification; social ecology; social structure; town; city quarter; economic structure; nineteenth century
Classification Criminal Sociology, Sociology of Law; Social History, Historical Social Research; Jurisprudence
Method empirical; historical
Document language English
Publication Year 1990
Page/Pages p. 121-139
Journal Historical Social Research, 15 (1990) 4
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works