This article is about the window of tolerance pdf theory. Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows.
Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars. Stanford psychologist, arranged an experiment testing the broken-window theory in 1969. The car in the Bronx was attacked within minutes of its abandonment.
Within twenty-four hours of its abandonment, everything of value had been stripped from the vehicle. After that, the car’s windows were smashed in, parts torn, upholstery ripped, and children were using the car as a playground. At the same time, the vehicle sitting idle in Palo Alto sat untouched for more than a week until Zimbardo himself went up to the vehicle and deliberately smashed it with a sledgehammer. Soon after, people joined in for the destruction. Zimbardo observed that a majority of the adult “vandals” in both cases were primarily well dressed, Caucasian, clean-cut and seemingly respectable individuals.
It is believed that, in a neighborhood such as the Bronx where the history of abandoned property and theft are more prevalent, vandalism occurs much more quickly as the community generally seems apathetic. Similar events can occur in any civilized community when communal barriers—the sense of mutual regard and obligations of civility—are lowered by actions that suggest apathy. The article received a great deal of attention and was very widely cited. Catharine Coles, is based on the article but develops the argument in greater detail.
A successful strategy for preventing vandalism, according to the book’s authors, is to address the problems when they are small. Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Problems are less likely to escalate and thus “respectable” residents do not flee the neighborhood. People in the community help with crime prevention.
Newman proposes that people care for and protect spaces they feel invested in, arguing that an area is eventually safer if the people feel a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the area. Broken windows and vandalism are still prevalent because communities simply do not care about the damage. Regardless of how many times the windows are repaired, the community still must invest some of their time to keep it safe. Residents’ negligence of broken window-type decay signifies a lack of concern for the community.
Newman says this is a clear sign that the society has accepted this disorder—allowing the unrepaired windows to display vulnerability and lack of defense. The theory thus makes two major claims: that further petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior is deterred, and that major crime is prevented as a result. Criticism of the theory has tended to focus disproportionately on the latter claim. The United States has adopted in many ways policing strategies of old European times, and at that time informal social control was the norm, which gave rise to contemporary formal policing.