Managing the Neoliberal City

“Quality of life” policing in the twenty-first century

Authored by: Katherine Beckett , Steve Herbert

The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415673440
eBook ISBN: 9781315755519
Adobe ISBN: 9781317627401


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The politics of urban social control are frequently contentious, and often focus on the proper way to police those considered undesirable. In the contemporary era, “quality of life” policing—often referred to as “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” policing—has become increasingly popular in cities in the United States and elsewhere (Harcourt, 2001; Herbert, 2001; Wacquant, 2003). Originally articulated by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982, this approach rests on the assumption that street-level behaviors engaged in by the homeless and other ostensibly disreputable people generate more serious criminality. For Wilson and colleagues, “broken windows” and other manifestations of “disorder” symbolize a neighborhood that does not care about itself; this serves as a cue for those seeking to engage in more serious criminal acts (Kelling and Coles, 1996; Wilson and Kelling, 1982).

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