Urban Space, Violence and Gender Identity in Post-War Italian Crime Fiction
The Duca Lamberti series
81 Chapter 1 Urban Environments and Crime While not exclusively an urban phenomenon, criminal activi- ties tend largely to occur in cities and urbanized areas, whatev- er the frame of reference (country, timescale etc.). Considerable scholarly research has been undertaken in the fields of urbanism (the study of cities, their geographic, economic, political, social and cultural environments) and urbanization (the study of urban growth), and the impact of such phenomena on individuals’ be- haviour in the criminal context. The classic studies of Wirth (1938), Shaw and McKay (1942), and Simmel (1955) suggest that certain aspects of the urban environment – including its size, density, heterogeneity, citizens’ low economic status, residential mobility and family disruption – can promote social disorganization and individual alienation. These two conditions may then lead to de- viant social behaviour of some kind.1 Clinard and Abbott in their Crime in Developing Countries, a sociological study of urban areas and urbanization, note that “the urban way of life is characterized by extensive conflict of norms and values, rapid social change, in- creased mobility of the population, emphasis on material goods and individualism” (1973: 85). Overall, the various studies all sug- gest that the pace of urbanization is linked to the occurrence of criminal behaviour among individual residents, and that urban 1 For historical and contempo rary perspectives from which to approach the impact of the urbanization process on levels and forms of criminality refer to Louis Wirth, ‘Urbanism as a way of life’, The American Journal of Sociology. XLIV 1...
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