Clifford R. Shaw und Henry D. McKay haben in den 1940er Jahren eine ganz neue Form der empirischen Kriminologie “erfunden”, die auf sozialökologischen Variablen basiert. Anders als viele Forscher heute, waren sich die beiden Autoren jedoch darüber im Klaren, dass Korrelationen, die sie auf der Ebene von Aggregaten finden, nicht einfach auf Individuen übertragen werden dürfen.
Wir zitieren aus den Ergebnissen der bemerkenswerten Studie mit dem Titel “Juvenile Deliquency and Urban Areas”:
I. Rates of delinquents and rates of commitment vary widely and consistently among Chicago communities, and almost as widely and consistently among suburbs in Chicago. This means that the probability of an adolescent’s becoming involved in violative conduct, to the extent that he or she is dealt with officially by legal agencies, varies widely among areas. The evidence indicates that these probabilities are stable and persistent.
2. It is not assumed that geographic areas produce delinquent children. Rather, rates of delinquents reflect the effectiveness of the operation of processes through which socialization takes place and the problems of life are encountered and dealt with.
Low rates of delinquents reflect the existence of a stable institutional structure. Although this does not require the absence of change, it suggests that if population change takes place, newcomers are able and willing to play existing roles in the institutions. This is the situation which can be found in many outlying areas in the city.
3. A high incidence of delinquent behavior indicates a breakdown of the machinery which the needs of different segments of the population are met through conventional institutions. Usually in cities this breakdown is the result of rapid change in the population. If the new population is not prepared to play significant roles in the traditional political and economic institutions, or if these are denied them, the disruption may be very great..
4. High and low rates of delinquents are not permanent characteristics of any ethnic or racial group. Each population group experiences high rates of delinquents when it occupied the areas of first settlement, and these rates went down as the groups either moved out to better areas or moved towards stability in the same areas.”
(Shaw & McKay, Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas, pp.384-385)