Lynch, Boggess: A Radical Grounding for Social Disorganization Theory

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A Radical Grounding for Social Disorganization Theory:
A Political Economic Investigation of the Causes of Poverty, Inequality and Crime in Urban Areas

Lynch & Boggess | Radical Social Disorganization Theory

Michael Lynch
& Lyndsay N. Boggess

This article examines specific observations about crime produced by social disorganization theory (SDT) related to the relationship between urban poverty, inequality and crime, from the perspective of radical criminological. As we note below, the development of radical criminological explanations of crime entered a state of dormancy by the 1990s at the same time that increased attention was being paid to expanding critical alternatives to the kinds of class-based and political economic approaches preferred by radical criminologists in other disciplines. Since 1990, that tendency to shy away from class and political economic analysis has also produced a lack of critical investigation of orthodox theories of crime and the avoidance of class-based critiques of those theories. While this observation applies to all contemporary orthodox theories (e.g., there has been limited or no radical critique of life-course theory [for an exception see Lynch 1996], self-control theory, developmental theories, general theories [for an exception see, Lynch and Groves, 1995]), it is also applicable to the continued development of a critique of social disorganization theories of crime (Lynch and Groves 1986; Lynch and Michalowski 2006).

In line with the above observations, the argument below examines how radical criminological theory can be used to critique and extend the assumptions of SDT in ways that are consistent with a political economic analysis of the relationship between crime, poverty and inequality. Of particular concern in this analysis is an exploration of the association between poverty, inequality and crime posited by social disorganization theory, which marks a useful starting point for a more radical analysis of these associations. From a radical perspective, SDT lacks an analysis of the origins and the distribution of poverty and inequality in urban areas. That missing theoretical description can be addressed by the assumptions inherent in political economic approaches used to address the production of crime.

To be sure, poverty and inequality are two of the more persistent correlates of crime in SDT research, and the ability of radical approaches to explain the differential distribution of poverty and inequality in urban landscapesan issue that SDT does not address theoretically, and rather begins with the existence of poverty and inequalityextends our ability to conceptualize and understand how capitalism produces crime through the intermediary appearance of visible social and economic outcomes such as poverty and inequality. In short, the focus of this work is explaining the emergence and distribution of poverty and inequality in capitalist societies, their transference to urban space, and their connection to crime. The goal is to radicalize social disorganization theory and capture its many insights in ways that are consistent with a radical explanation of crime. In doing so, we are able to identify the ways in which radical criminology and SDT complement one another.

The primary focus of a radical extension of SDT focuses on providing a political economic explanation of the origins of poverty and inequality. SDT begins with an assumption that in any society, poverty and inequality exists, and that these social factors are distributed unequally within urban areas. With few exceptions (Sampson and Wilson 1995; Sampson 2012; Wilson 1987), SDT does not offer an explanation of the geography of poverty and inequality, and hence cannot explain why crime is distributed the way that it is except with reference to the assumed unequal distribution of poverty and inequality. Radical explanations can deepen the arguments of SDT by illustrating how poverty and inequality are produced and distributed within capitalist systems of production and within urban areas in ways that are consistent with and reproduce the structural tendencies of capitalist systems to promote inequality and produce poor, economically marginal populations.

To explore this issue further, we begin with our background assumptions and provide additional support for the type of argument offered here. In the sections that follow, we review the general assumptions of SDT and its findings with respect to poverty, inequality and crime. Next, we begin our discussion of the radicalization of SDT. Finally, we include a discussion of some of the limitations of our argument and suggestions for additional theoretical exposition of a radical perspective on social disorganization.


The radical tradition in criminology, by which we mean the preference to employ political economic analysis and structural orientations for the analysis of crime, law and justice, has been largely dormant in the 21st century. To be sure, critical criminology which includes theoretical analysis outside of political economic theory, has rapidly expanded in recent decades. Many of those explanations, however, overlook the relevance of political economic theory for explaining crime, including, for example, the decade long decline in crime (Lynch 2013b), and instead have helped promote a cultural turn in criminology (Farrell, Hayward and Young 2008; Jones 2013; see more generally, Jameson 1998).

Efforts to remedy the neglect of radical criminology and its political economic emphasis have been undertaken in recent years. In addition to the current journal, Radical Criminology, a recent issues of the Journal of Crime and Justice (2013) calls attention to political economic explanations and to emerging explanations and orientations designed to help reinvigorate radical criminology (Michalowski 2013; Kramer 2013; Lynch 2013b; Carlson et al. 2013; Stretesky et al 2013; Barrett 2013). As noted in articles in the Journal of Crime and Justice (Lynch 2013a), the neglect as well as the critique of the radical criminological approaches and the preference for class-based analysis is ideologically situated in orthodox criminological assumptions about the causes of crime. Orthodox critics, for example, have historically rejected the initial assumptions of radical explanations, comparing the theoretical assumptions of radical explanations of crime and justice to the doctrine of communist states. As a consequence, those critiques reject radical criminology both out of hand and ideologically, and fail to appreciate the contributions radical theory can make to explanations of crime and justice. In doing so, a wide variety of orthodox theories reject radical explanations of crime and justice without a thorough-going analysis of its assumptions or the related empirical research (see Lynch, Schwendinger and Schwendinger 2006, for discussion). Criminologists largely avoid radical explanations, and have framed the critiques of that approach around a series dated, largely invalid criticisms (Lynch 2013b). Those criticisms, for example, depict radical explanations as abstract, anti-empirical, as unquantifiable, and questionable because of their assumed political orientations (for review see Lynch and Michalowski 2006). As noted, this type of criticism is dated and has not kept pace with the development or application of radical criminology, and especially its empirical applications to the study of crime (Lynch, Schwendinger and Schwendinger 2006).

While those criticisms have become irrelevant to the nature of more contemporary versions of radical criminology, there are, to be sure, limitations in the radical criminological literature, and those limitations have facilitated the neglect of radical criminology. Chief among those limitations has been the failure to continue a radical critique of orthodox theories of crime that once stood center stage in radical criminology (e.g., Taylor, Walton and Young 1973; Chambliss 1975; Krisberg 1975; Quinney 1980). During the hey-day of radical criminology in the 1970s and 1980s one could locate references to radical criminological approaches in a number of orthodox criminological studies. That is to say, despite the critique of radical criminology that had been developed by orthodox criminologists, orthodox criminologists still made reference to the important insights of radical criminology especially in relation to political economic analysis and discussions of class bias with respect to crime, law and justice, and the role of institutionalized power as an important issue to consider when explaining crime, law and justice. This critique was especially relevant to class bias and the neglect of the crimes of the powerful (Lynch and Michalowski 2006). References to radical criminological literature, however, have largely disappeared from the orthodox criminological literature, and in part, that outcome is a consequence of the neglect of the further development of political economic and class-based explanations and the development of multiple alternative critical criminological approaches that neglect class-based analysis and critique (Lynch 2013b).

To facilitate further development of radical explanations of crime and contribute to reinvigoration of that approach, in the present work we draw attention to political economy and its intersection with one of the major structural approaches employed by orthodox criminologists—social disorganization theory. Following a review of social disorganization theory, we explore how the orthodox version of social disorganization can be attached to more radical theoretical premises, and how doing so changes the nature of social disorganization theory.

Review: The Core Elements of Social Disorganization Theory

Developed from the 1920-1940s, and expanded during the 1980s through the present, social disorganization theory (SDT) has become the major structural explanation for crime, particularly within the context of urban areas from an orthodox criminological perspective. SDT frames its assumptions against historical trends in urban development and industrialization, the nature of urban geography and the distribution of social institutions with respect to visible relations and patterns in the urban landscape. The main features of this explanation are reviewed below.

The origins of social disorganization theory can be traced to several approaches for explaining the origins of urban networks and relationships including the work of Park (1915), Thomas and Znaniecji (1920), Park, Burgess and McKenzie (1925), Thrasher (1927) and Wirth (1928). One of the contemporary versions of social disorganization theory originated when researchers recognized that high crime endured in specific locations within the city despite changes in the population that lived there (Shaw and McKay 1942). Building on this observation, Shaw and McKay (1942) sought to explain crime as a consequence of neighborhood structure, and not as a characteristic of the individuals living there. Specifically, they argued that low economic status, residential instability, and racial/ethnic heterogeneity disrupted forms of community organization necessary for crime control. Whereas socially organized communities are able to establish effective networks of informal social control, structural factors in socially disorganized communities tend to inhibit socialization (but not always, Mazerolle, Wickes and McBroom 2010). As a consequence, social disorganization impedes the formation of common goals among residents and limits the capacity of a neighborhood to control behavior, which contributes to higher rates of crime and delinquency (Kornhauser 1978; Bursik and Grasmick 1993; Kovandzic, Vieratic and Yeisley 1998; Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls 1997).

Research on social disorganization theory has shown a consistent relationship between negative community attributes such as poverty, economic inequality, residential instability and family disruption and high crime rates (e.g., Boggess and Hipp 2010; Krivo and Peterson 1996; Sampson and Groves 1989). In particular, research has focused on the role of poverty and economic inequality, especially as experienced by the Black urban poor. Income inequality can impact crime rates in two primary ways. First, crime will increase as residents in impoverished neighborhoods compare themselves with others who are more affluent or have more resources. As a consequence of this perceived injustice or strain, violent crime may flourish. Second, in general the economic differential among residents leads to reduced interaction and thus lower levels of informal social control necessary to prevent crime, with the exception that impoverished communities with high collective efficacy tend to have lower rates of offending (e.g., Rukus and Warner 2013; Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls 1997; for variations for Latino communities see, Burchfield and Silver 2013; for rejection in Netherlands see Bruinsma et al. 2013). Indeed, Hipp (2007) determined that overall income inequality is associated with higher crime rates, especially violent crime. Sampson and Wilson (1995) recognize that the brunt of this violence is borne out by poor Blacks who are more likely to live in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods when compared to Whites.

Radicalizing Social Disorganization Theory

Above, we reviewed the core elements of SDT. That approach offers a rich inspection of various factors that contribute to crime at the geographic level. SDT is a structural explanation to the extent that it focuses on the distribution of structural manifestations of social arrangements within geographic space, or how larger economic relations are reflected and distributed in urban geography. Largely missing from the SDT explanation of the factors that produce crime, however, is a theoretical explanation of the sources of disorganization that explores how larger structural forces shape urban ecology and the appearance of disorganization. One exception is Sampson and Wilson (1995) who argued that macrostructural forces shaped cities by concentrating black poverty in the city center. Though the authors briefly discuss governmental policies that contributed to urban decay and planned segregation such as deindustrialization, white-flight, lax code enforcement, and the construction of freeways and public housing in predominantly black neighborhoods, they do not fully explore the motivations of these governmental decisions from a radical perspective. As Lynch and Michalowski (2006) previously argued, it is by grafting a larger political economic explanation onto SDT that a more contextualized and structural explanation of SDT can be created to explain the origins of social disorganization.

In taking such an approach to the impact of social disorganization on crime, we begin with an assumption that the empirical results produced by social disorganization research studies are valid, and that the findings of that view have utility for explaining crime and its distribution. What we seek, then, is a radical explanation for the empirical facts produced by SDT that connects those results to political economic relations and organization—that is, to the broader political economic structure of capitalism.

In taking this approach to crime and social disorganization, our work is informed by what we hold out as one of the most noteworthy modern theoretical arguments on the production of radical social theory, C. Wright Mills’ (1959) The Sociological Imagination. Drawing on the classical sociological tradition, Mills argued that adequate social explanations must pay attention to the role social structure plays in organizing social life. With respect to the SDT tradition, that means being able to explain the urban processes that impact crime develop (i.e., poverty and inequality), and being able to situate the forms of social disorganization that develop and in which people are enmeshed within the core relations found within a social system’s economic, political and social arrangement. Below, we illustrate how this can be accomplished to create a political economic explanation of SDT in ways that provide radical criminologists the opportunity to explain the missing connections in SDTthe unequal geographic distribution of social disorganizationopening the opportunity for radicals to contribute to that structural orientation for explaining crime.

The Political Economy of Poverty and Inequality

Two important concepts in SDT that have long been associated with the geographic distribution of social disorganization and crime are poverty and inequality. Missing from that empirical set of observations, however, is the rationale that explains the origins of poverty and economic inequality. In other words, SDT takes the existence of poverty and inequality as a starting point for empirically analyzing how those conditions relate to crime, and offers only a very general observation that poverty and inequality are related to the process of industrialization (for an exception, see Sampson and Wilson 1995). What SDT fails to offer, however, is an explanation for the existence of poverty and economic inequality, the distribution of poverty and inequality throughout geographic space, and how industrialization generates poverty and economic inequality. Such an explanation of the origins of poverty and inequality is central to radical theory, and it is by referring to political economic theory that the geographic distribution of poverty and inequality and the origin of poverty and inequality can be explained. In this more radically oriented approaches, SDT provides the superstructure of the explanation (the empirical evidence of the visible relationship outcomes between crime, poverty and inequality, or social disorganization and crime), while political economic theory contributes the infrastructure for the explanation—the explanation of the origins of poverty and inequality within the normal operation of a capitalist economy.

In order to frame this type of radical explanation of crime, we must begin with the following questions: why are people poor? And why are economic resources unequally distributed? There is no general explanation to those questions, since the factors that produce poverty and economic inequality vary across historical eras and are different for unique forms of economic relations, and emerge in different ways within any urban area. Thus, to narrow those conditions, any radical/political economic explanation of poverty and economic inequality must begin by first specifying the structural conditions to which the explanation applies. Here, we select as our historical frame of reference contemporary capitalism, and note that our explanation is, therefore, relative to locations in where capitalism is the primary form of economic, political and social organization.

Having selected capitalist economies as the starting point for our analysis, we must turn to Marx’s (1974) theory of capitalism to expose and understand the origins of poverty and inequality in capitalist systems of production. Generally, Marx’s theory of capitalism (1974) remains the most appropriate theoretical explanation for the general organization of capitalism and the processes and effects of capitalist production. In the Marxist view, capitalism is based on the inherent existence and need for inequality between classes, first at the level of ownership of the means of production. The proposition that the means of production are unequally distributed in a capitalist system is not simply an assumption, it is an empirical observation concerning how ownership of production is actually distributed within capitalist systems of production. Empirically, this means that a small portion of the population owns the majority of the stake in the productive mechanisms found within society. A number of studies confirm this observation with respect to ownership patterns in capitalist nations (Wolff 2002; Thompson 2012).

Ownership inequality is related to other forms of economic inequality found within society. Thus, for example, it can be illustrated that inequality in ownership is related to inequality in both income and wealth (Autor, Katz and Kearney 2008). These latter forms of inequality, however, are merely expressions of the more general form of inequality related to the ownership of the means of production, and do not themselves serve as a sufficient explanation of the structural processes and dynamics that promote and maintain inequality in the first instance. To be sure, the existence of these additional forms of economic inequality such as income and wealth inequality are important to the reproduction and extension of inequality more generally within a capitalist system (Peet 1975). That is to say, income and wealth inequality reinforce ownership inequality, and are empirical indicators of the extent of inequality. They are not, however, in themselves the causes of inequality, but rather are consequences of other forms of structural inequality inherent in capitalist systems of production.

In order to explain the origins of inequality in capitalist systems of production, we must refer to Marx’s argument that inequality in ownership of the means of production is, in the first instance, a necessary requirement of capitalist economic relationships. Capitalism cannot exist within out this form of class inequality. In other words, in a definitional sense, identifying capitalism requires that the means of production is unequally distributed. This inequality is not only a class based relationship between the owners and non-owners of the means of production, it is one that must, by its nature, extend throughout society. The nature of capitalist inequality requires that it extends to other productive, social and political relations as well. This means that inequality is, for example, expressed in work relations between the classes with respect to the control of the labor process, and with respect to the unequal distribution of the proceeds of production. The secret behind this latter part of the explanation concerning the unequal distribution of the proceeds of production is found in the Marxist theory of surplus value under conditions of capitalism.

To begin, it is necessary to state the obvious: that the goal of capitalist production is to generate profit, and not only to generate profit, but for the owners of production to maintain the majority of the profit generated from productionthat is, for income from production to be unequally distributed. In a capitalist system, the generation of profits hinges on the ability of the capitalist to exploit labor, or as Marx (1974) also noted, to extract surplus value from the laboring class. In simple terms, surplus value is the excess value labor produces above the wages it receives for labor. It is this labor surplus that comes to define the nature and extent of inequality between classes within society.

Modern reinterpretations of the extraction of surplus value linked to Marxist ecology or Marxist ecological economics (Foster 2000; Foster, Clark and York 2010; Burkett 2005), helps us appreciate that this process begins with the exploitation of nature. That is to say, human labor cannot be exploited unless nature’s labor is first exploited by extracting the raw materials for production from nature. While this approach for understanding the entire process of exploitation in capitalist systems has relevance to other applications of radical criminology (Stretesky, Long and Lynch 2013), especially those related to the production of ecological destruction in capitalist economies, for the present work we need to simply acknowledge that capitalism must also exploit nature without probing that argument extensively as it bear little relevance to the explanation of crime in the SDT approach (see below for additional comments on this point related to the definition of crime).

Beginning with the exploitation of nature, the capitalist seeks to extend the exploitation process by extracting surplus labor from the working class by manipulating various aspects of the process of production (Marx 1974). The relevance of this argument to radical criminology has been previously established with respect to crime and punishment (Lynch 1987, 1988, 2010; Lynch, Groves and Lizotte 1994). To summarize this view, the capitalist extracts surplus labor from the worker, paying the worker less than the value of the labor performed (Marx 1974). In short, the worker receives less in wages than the value of the labor they applied and the value of the commodity they produce. The surplus labor the worker generated becomes part of the price of the commodity. When sold, the capitalist retains the surplus valued realized from the sale of the commodity. The proportion of the retained surplus value, or the rate of surplus value extracted from the labor process, contributes to the production of economic inequality (e.g., income and wealth differentials) between the capitalist and the worker.


Above, we have illustrated how radical economic explanations locate one source of economic inequality in the basic functional operation of the capitalist process—the extraction of surplus value. In this section, we turn our attention to poverty, another important empirical correlate of crime in the SDT approach.

In radical economics, poverty outcomes emerge from any number of operational processes associated with capitalism. One such process is economic marginalization, which is also driven by the capitalist’s interest in profit and the process through which surplus value is extracted from the labor force. Here, we must also introduce the concept of the organic composition of capital (g), which is the ratio of technical to variable capital (c), or the value composition of capital comprised of expenditures on machinery, raw materials, rent and other expenses, versus the proportion spent on labor (variable capital, v). Following Marx’s description, the organic composition of capital, g, is equal to c/v, and provides an objective means of measuring the organization of capital’s distribution.

Theoretically, the organic composition of capital is important because it impacts the extraction of surplus value. In an effort to drive up the proportion of surplus value extracted from the labor process, the capitalist invests in labor saving technology (c), driving up investment in the technical component of capital relative to investment in its variable component (v). Theoretically, the result is that as the capitalist invests more in technical capital, less variable capital investment is required to either produce the same volume or a greater volume of commodities (the exception is when both c and v rise while g rises). In other words, investment in technical capital including machinery increases the productivity of the workforce, and requires less investment in labor to generate the same or an expanding volume of product. Over time, investment in technical capital leads to a reduction in the need for labor, producing unemployment. In the long run of capitalism, this expansion of unemployment means that fewer workers are required for production, and a permanent level of unemployment is established once capitalism matures, producing a permanent marginal population. That unemployed population is not simply out of work, they are unemployable or economically marginal because there is an insufficient volume of work available. This means that the marginal population cannot obtain work because the volume of work has been diminished by investment in labor saving technology. It is from the extraction of surplus value and manipulation of the organic composition of capital, then, that the marginal population emerges, and from which the ranks of the poor are formed.

This process reoccurs continually throughout the history of a capitalist economy, and cycles within and across the stage of the social structure of accumulation found within a capitalist system that manifests itself at any point in time (Carlson and Michalowski 1997). Thus, over time, we may see poverty cycles related to economic marginalization. That is, poverty may, under certain conditions, increase or decrease over time. But, despite the rise and fall of poverty, the overall trend in poverty under capitalism is one of rising poverty, and each successive social structure of accumulation fails to reduce poverty to its previous level. Thus, while poverty may fall within a given segment of a social structure of accumulation (SSA), over the long run or across SSAs it should rise or drift upward (whether or not it does so is an empirical question). This is difficult to illustrate with official data on poverty given that the official poverty rate may not be an adequate indicator of the extent of poverty, and that such measures may not align appropriately with the Marxian description of this process.

The Geography of Poverty and Inequality

From the perspective of political economy, one of the limitation of SDT and especially its intellectual roots in the Chicago School of Sociology is that it SDT is “so deeply immersed in free market reasoning that its practitioners seem not to have been aware that there was even an alternative approach” to urban geography and human ecology (Logan and Luskin 2007, 4). In making that point, Logan and Luskin draw attention to alternative political economic explanations of urban geography. Despite various critiques of urban geography posited by those employing political economic explanations, the essential Marxist argument that urban geography is a reflection of class conflict and struggle and suggests an alternative starting point for the analysis of the urban landscape and relations (Castree 1999) has not been widely adopted generally, and has been completely absent from criminological examinations of urban relations.

With respect to Marxist political urban ecology, a defining work is Castells’s (1977), The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach. Not easily summarized due to its length and complex detail, one of the important political economic observations offered by Castells was that the city is the spatial expression of larger political economic relationships that define capitalism as a system of production. Following Castells, it can be argued that the physical space of the city reflects the forms of class conflict, class exploitation, power relations between classes, and the organizational routine of the capitalist system of economic production in which an urban area is located. In sum, we can say that under capitalism urban spaces are, in other words, divided along the same lines as capitalist economic relations and express the vertical forms of power found within capitalism horizontally or across the plane of urban space.

As noted earlier, SDT has no underlying explanation for the physical structure of urban centers. Originally guided by the well-known concentric zone model and assumptions about the growth of organisms borrowed from biological sciences, Chicago School researchers depicted the city as an organism with different phases of growth. The center of the city as an organism was the business sector, and all other aspects of the city as organism were depicted as being arranged around this center. Each area of the urban center is, we suggest, “taken for granted” in this view, meaning that the SDT approach begins with rather than explains why the city has different ecological segments.

Historically, this view of the city was developed from concentric zone models developed from observations made by early Chicago School researchers on the city of Chicago. The concentric zone model itself is a description of urban space in Chicago, and is not universally evident in other urban areas. That is to say, other urban growth and organizational patterns are seen across cities (Harris 1997) and there is nothing inherently advantageous to the traditional concentric zone approach to urban organization.

In light of Castells’s observations about capitalism and urban space briefly reviewed above and observations produced by SDT in relation to crime, we are now in a position to describe the geography of cities and the production of crime as an expression of economic relationships. Here, we pay particular attention to geography and crime in relation to poverty and inequality since these are the central empirical predictors of crime in the SDT tradition.

Urban Geography, Poverty and Inequality in a Radical Perspective

To begin, it is important to note that as we argued above, poverty and inequality in various forms (i.e., economic, access to production, income, wealth, and political) are outcomes generated by the organizational structure of capitalism. That is to say, within a capitalist system, the normal operation of the system of capitalist production generates forms of poverty and inequality that do not otherwise simply exist as a natural consequence of human social organization. Rather, within capitalist economies, the organization of urban areas reflects the organizational nature of capitalism. Thus, we do not begin with poverty and inequality as givens as SDT does, but as we illustrated above, must first demonstrate how capitalism produces poverty and inequality. Since we have already undertaken that task, the issue that remains is to explore concerns related to the geography of poverty and inequality in the urban landscape, and their intersection with crime.

There is nothing in the theory of capitalism which states that poverty and inequality must be located in specific places within the urban geography of a city. That is to say, the exact location of poverty and inequality cannot be explained as necessarily emerging in a given location or space within urban areas. What this view suggests is that urban poverty and inequality must result from the progression of capitalism, and that specific urban locations become the physical locations of poverty and inequality in capitalism’s urban geography. How poverty and inequality are distributed within any specific urban location requires knowledge concerning the historical development of capitalism in a given location. Nevertheless, some general observations on this point can be offered.

For example, urban poverty and inequality are likely to be located near industrial locations since these areas, as SDT notes, take on the appearance of disorder relative to other forms of organization in the urban space of capitalism. Over time, these disorganized areas can move, expand and recede depending on how the capitalist form of production within any urban location changes and how capital is invested and reinvested within urban area within different eras of capitalism’s development. One can expect, however, a long term association between the geography of poverty, inequality and class in urban spaces within a capitalist system. Under capitalism, the hierarchy of class power tends to be replicated across urban space, creating identifiable urban spaces where poverty and inequality stand out.

Like classes, power, production and other dimensions of the economic relations of capitalism, poverty and inequality must exist within capitalism. Moreover, poverty and inequality exist within capitalism as outcomes of and mechanisms for replicating the nature of capitalist order and its inherent tendency toward inequality. As a result, poverty and inequality must be unevenly distributed within urban space so that the hierarchy of capitalist relations can be made visible and social groups can be differentiated and regulated differently (i.e., in relation to concepts of power and discipline as described by Foucault 1979). Moreover, as some suggest, these visible signs of group differentiation are also expressed in the psychological attitudes and perspectives of members of the working class (Sennett and Cobb 1972). We can conceptualize this spatial distribution of poverty and inequality as one of the dimensions of the horizontal, multi-directional plane of power that replicates the vertical axis of class or economic power in a capitalist economy. In this view, the spatial distribution of poverty and inequality reinforces vertical power (the class hierarchy of capitalism), but is laid out across the landscape of the city. In terms of income, for example, poverty occupies the lowest space on the vertical distribution of incomes for all residents and classes within an urban area, and geographically, the urban poor are isolated by their lack of economic, political and social power within urban geography. Geographically, however, the spatial dynamics of poverty can be dispersed and may be widely or narrowly distributed in any urban location depending on how class struggle and urban space intersect with one another within the historical context of a given urban location as affected by the development of capitalism in specific cities. This means that any discussion of the spatial dynamic of poverty (or inequality) within an urban area will tend toward abstraction where it is not tied to the specific historical dynamics of an identifiable urban location. In the present discussion, we have chosen to stick to this more abstract discussion rather than attempt to illustrate our points with respect to any particular urban location.

Poverty and Urban Geography

Geographically, as anyone familiar with any urban location can attest, pockets of poverty form in urban centers. These are the physical locations of the most impoverished members of an urban areathe economically marginalizedwhere the capitalist landscape separates the economically marginal from the remainder of the population, and to which the signs of poverty become attached, confined and segregated. The poor are not segregated in these locations by choice, as these locations certainly contain the most undesirable conditions with the fewest resources and opportunities for employment and healthy lifestyles or as meaningful locations for achieving human potential (Sennett and Cobb 1972). As a result, these areas constitute locations no one would choose given a real choice concerning where to live. In this view, the poor do not cluster together, as some early or even latter cultural theories linked to some SDT research might suggest, because of their shared values, norms, beliefs and cultures (i.e., as in the lower class subculture of poverty, Banfield 1970; Hyman 1977; Lewis 1963, 1968; Rainwater 1970). Rather, the poor cluster together and become fragmented into these enclaves of poverty because this is where they can afford to live in the urban landscape of capitalism. That among the poor, ethnic minorities may cluster together is certainly an empirical fact. Yet, the clustering of the ethnic or immigrant-poor is not evidence of the power of culture to draw together people with similar values, but rather is evidence of the power of economic organization as the key structuring force behind residential segregation in urban areas. Significant evidence of income, class and racial segregation exists in the US, for example, with studies indicating an increase in class segregation over time (Fischer 2003). Some portion of class and race segregation is due to neoliberal policies or policies of the welfare state (see chapters in Musterd and Ostendorf 2013), indicating the potential for further development of Wacquant’s (2012, 2011, 2009) analysis of the neoliberal state and the punishment of poverty as one path for redirecting radical criminological explan-ations of crime.

 It is in the urban neighborhoods of the poor, where, indeed, social disorganization (and as certain forms of social control) is the greatest. But, this cluster of poverty is not a form of social disorganization caused by the “culture of the poor,” but rather the manifestation of the organizational forces of capitalism. On this point, some versions of social disorganization theory misinterpret the empirical evidence concerning the concentration of poverty in urban areas. This is a mistake that some, such as Shaw and McKay, did not make. Rather, as Shaw and McKay (1942) noted in their analysis of crime, when the immigrants who once occupied a disorganized area move from those locations, crime does not follow but remains in the disorganized communities immigrants leave behind. This would imply that it is not the culture of those populations that produces and organizes crime, but rather the economic context in which they were situated and the disorganized nature of capitalism as manifest in the segregation of the urban poor. What remains the same about those disorganized, high crime areas despite who lives there is that they continue to reflect the forms of disorganization capitalism produces, and despite who lives in those areas, continues to produce crime as a consequence of the economic disorganization found in those areas promoted by capitalism.

As described above, in the ordinary path of its development capitalism produces an economically marginal population. As a productive system, not only does capitalism produce the economically marginal, it also produces conditions that maintain that population in marginal economic circumstances and in segregated communities. In this way, capitalism produces a surplus of labor and a surplus laboring population that depresses the wage rate as far as possible (theoretically, as close to the minimum as possible, with the minimum being defined by the subsistence wage relative to other prevailing economic conditions, Marx 1974). Moreover, as Castells indicates, the physical location of the poor in areas of concentrated poverty allows the poor to also be used for ideological purposesto spread a message about poverty to the working class to facilitate their compliance with the requirements of capitalism, and to create negative messages about their fate should they fail to work hard and adhere to disciplinary regimes (see also Wacquant 2009).

The ideological use of the poor is not limited to its ability to persuade those with work to work harder, and to value employment. In his influential book, The Undeserving Poor, Katz (1989) argues that the vocabulary of poverty that identifies mainstream political discussions has “channeled discourse about need, entitlement and justice within the narrow limits bounded by the market” (1). He goes on to suggest that “these historic preoccupations have shaped and confined ideas about poor people and distributive justice in recent American history” (1989, 1). This description of the poor, however, is not merely a discourse, but a practice. As a practice, political discourse about the poor regulates the physical space the poor are allowed to occupy within urban areas. Isolated in their “pockets of poverty,” the poor serve an ideological purpose for the system of capitalist production. The poor are maintained in their geographic space where they are isolated and serve as example of the consequences of failing to abide by the disciplinary regimes of capitalism (Foucault 1979). They are periodically rediscovered, made visible, and interpreted as deserving of capital investment when the system of production experiences a legitimation crisis (e.g., see Habermas 1975) and needs to use images of the poor to maintain its legitimacy (Zurn and Leibfried 2005) or when it needs to transition the marginal population into employment when the labor market is tight and wages are rising, as in welfare-work state mechanisms (Esping-Andersen 2006).

In orthodox criminological theory, the existence of the poor in the urban landscape is typically accepted as a normal condition, and simply as the modern expression of the historical tendency for a population of the poor to exist in urban areas across various types of economic and social organization (Katz 1989). That view of the ever-presence of the poor is now so widespread, even in academic literature, that it seems natural to imagine that the poor are a required part of the urban landscape (Katz 1989), and that all societies have been burdened by the poor, or that poverty is a natural state of human existence. To the contrary, this image of the poor which is promoted in modern times and especially by orthodox economics is far from true when one considers the anthropological evidence of the poor across historical epochs. One of the most influential works on this subject, Marshall Sahlin’s (1972) Stone Age Economics, posits that circumstance such as poverty as conceived in modern times was largely unknown in the original affluent society of the hunter-gatherer. In opposition to the modern assumption that human nature produces unlimited wants and patterns of behavior that make some individuals “lazy” and therefore poor, employing evidence from hunting-gathering societies, Sahlins suggests that the reverse is true among hunter-gatherers: there are limited wants amidst the bounty provided by nature, and human wants are easily met leaving significant leisure time and the general absence of poverty. This empirical observation about equity and poverty in hunter-gatherer life is opposed by the stereotype of the brutish conditions others assert to have existed in pre-modern societies, including, for example, the constant need to search for food to ensure survival that has often been described in other literature (for discussion see, Stoczkowski 2002). According to Sahlins, in the hunter-gatherer society, poverty in the modern sense is unknown. Thus, we can conclude that in contrast to the social form in which humans lived the vast majority of their existence (hunting-gathering), the poor are a product of more modern settlements in which ownership has become a central feature of access to the means of production, and that the poor are produced and reproduced by capitalism.

In the radical view, the emergence of urban poverty is not the result of deficiencies in cultures, values and norms; it is not the product of human nature; it is not, as, Edward Banfield (1958, 1970), Oscar Lewis (1963, 1968) and a generation of scholars and politicians argued, a consequence of a culture of poverty, of personal preferences for isolation, or the lack, as some criminologists might argue imbuing these antiquated ideas with modern currency, of impulse controls (for a critique and empirical analysis on some of these points see, Grove and Corrado 1983). Rather, in the approach taken here, poverty is an essential feature of the political economy of capitalism, and some portion of the population is plunged into poverty by the ordinary development of capitalism and isolated into disorganization and poor neighborhoods, not by their preference for poverty or culture, but by the very nature of capitalist political economic arrangements. In this view, poverty is not an indicator of some individual pathology, but rather is a structural deficiency produced by capitalism.

Inequality and Urban Geography

The explanation of the geography of inequality is much the same as the explanation of poverty as far as political economy is concerned. Inequality is a core feature of capitalism, and the vertical hierarchy of capitalist inequality or its class structure is, like poverty, distributed across the space of the city and reappears in the horizontal space built by capitalism as a reflection of its class (vertical) hierarchy of power. In the SDT view, the distribution of inequality is taken as the nature of things—that is, as a real, existing phenomenon that is taken as real by its very existence and requires no special explanation of its origins. If an explanation of inequality is offered by this type of orthodox view it is that inequality may reflect and result from variations in human ability, aptitude, hard work or perseverance. Such a view of inequality provides an individual level explanation for a structural problem and constitutes an ecological fallacy in this type of explanation.

In contrast, in the radical political economy view the origin of inequality in the modern city is associated with the inherent forms of structural inequality required and produced by capitalism. Thus, in the structural view of political economy, inequality is not interpreted as reflecting the characteristics of individuals, but rather the characteristics and structure of capitalism. Inequality, in this view is part of the basic organization and nature of capitalism. Thus, because capitalism generates inequality, that inequality must be distributed unequal across both the vertical hierarchy (e.g., the division between owners and workers; between the wealthy and the impoverished, etc.) and horizontal planes (the geography) of capitalism (Browett 1984; Peet 1975). As prior research indicates, spatial inequality may also reflect other aspects of capitalism such as the mobility of capital and different types of capital (Walker 1978), as well as the effects of class struggle and labor struggles (Strope and Walker 1983). The latter observations imply that it is important to acknowledge that labor struggles and responses to labor struggles and class conflict can shape both the vertical and horizontal nature of inequality in any particular system of capitalism and any given urban areas. These, then, are additional issues that a radical political economy addresses which are omitted in the traditional SDT approach and which have important ramifications for not only understanding the distribution of inequality in urban areas, but the forces that transform urban inequality.

In short, the city’s division into unequal regions where inequality, poverty or wealth are contained and isolated or where resources are unequally distributed, is not a mere empirical fact about the geography of the city. Rather, that form of urban geography is a consequence of the distributional requirements of capitalism, and urban space is the spatial manifestation of the inherent forms of inequality capitalism produces. In this view, capital itself cannot be evenly spread across the space of the urban landscape when it is unevenly spread across classes or other divisions within a capitalist system of production (Peet 1975).

From Capitalism to Crime

If SDT correctly identifies the ways in which poverty, inequality and crime are related, this is the result of the fact that the empirical distribution of poverty and inequality reflects the vertical structure of capitalism in ways that are not perceived by SDT itself. That is to say, SDT empirically identifies the real outcomes or the reality of how poverty and inequality is distributed in relation to crime, but not because it uses a theoretical position that accurately describes how poverty and inequality should be distributed in urban areas or because it forwards a theory concerning the origins and dispersion of inequality and poverty. In other words, the empirical results from SDT research sit well with the theoretical expectations generated from a radical criminological and political economic perspective, but not for theoretical reasons. This outcome—the ability of SDT to theoretically link poverty, inequality and crime to the political economic structure of societyis somewhat of an “empirical accident” from the theoretical vantage point of political economic theory. This empirical accident results from the fact that SDT correctly identifies how the outcomes produced by capitalism such as poverty and inequality are distributed and contribute to street crime in urban locations. Thus, it is clear that empirically, SDT research shows a connection between poverty, inequality and crime, yet at the same time fails to explain the forces that produce poverty and inequality or explain why these negative consequences of capitalism are unevenly distributed in the urban space of capitalism. In short, this correct empirical finding is not the result of SDT’s correct theoretical identification of the causes of poverty and inequality, for on that account, SDT fails to specify the forces that cause poverty and inequality to emerge in the first instance, or which force it to be distributed in some manner. As noted above, SDT assumes the existence of poverty and inequality, and beginning with that assumption and those outcomes (the existence of poverty and inequality) constructs a useful explanation of the links between poverty, inequality and crime. In this sense, the SDT explanation of crime is much like an explanation of climate change which states that an increase in temperature produces climate change, leaving the causes of temperature increases unidentified and unexplained.

In contrast to the SDT view, a radical analysis allows the causes of poverty and inequality to be identified. In the radical view, it is insufficient to suggest that poverty and inequality exist, or that they are related to crime. What is important in the radical view is to explain how poverty and inequality are, in the first place, produced by political economic arrangements, and how those political-economic arrangements sets the rest of the processthe production of crimein motion. In addition, because the radical view of social disorganization and crime is also much different than the SDT view, both lead to quite different policy implications. SDT approaches would hold poverty and inequality reduction programs as essential elements that could be employed to reduce crime, a natural choice from the SDT view since this is the beginning of the explanations of crime. These poverty reductions programs might include investing resources in poor and unequal urban locations, and to be sure, such policies have had better success than the individual level forms of reform suggested by other orthodox approaches to crime.

To some, the radical policy approach would appear to suggest the same things as the SDT view—that is to say, poverty and inequality reduction policies. This, however, would be a misinterpretation of the radical policy implications related to crime control (Lynch and Michalowski 2006). In the radical view, the central policy issue would be related to addressing the cause of poverty and inequality, not the appearance of poverty and inequality. In the radical view, to change the causes or appearance of poverty and inequality requires altering the basic political economic relations behind the causes of poverty and inequality—that is, reconfiguring political economic relationships. That means transitioning beyond capitalism and its inherent forms of inequality. Radicals understand that you cannot invest in impoverished neighborhoods and expect that those policies will be sufficient to transform poverty and inequality in the long run. Why? Because of the way the system of production and ownership is organized, the tendency of the political economic arrangement will be to re-create poverty and inequality. Eventually, the force of political economic organization will undo efforts to create surface equity, and this must be so because the capitalist system of production is based on promoting inequality in the first place. Thus, while SDT draws attention to the correct concerns (poverty and inequality), the lack of an explanation for poverty and inequality in the SDT view leads to policies that will have only short-term effects on crime.

The observations offered above should not be taken to imply that the surface associations between crime and poverty and inequality are irrelevant and unrelated. Rather, for radicals what is more relevant than the empirical association between crime/poverty/inequality is the explanation of the origins of poverty and inequality and therefore crime in the organization of capitalism’s political economic relationships. If, for example, poverty and inequality produce crime, this relationship only exists because it is produced by capitalism. That these relational intersections make sense in the context of capitalism’s political economy is not surprising. Whether the poor steal because they are deprived and want, as Engels (1845) described in his analysis of the working class in England, or whether one accepts more contemporary expressions of similar ideas in absolute and relative deprivation theories (Blau and Blau 1982) is in itself rather irrelevant to a more radical theoretical description of the causes of poverty and inequality, and how those processes are endemic to capitalism.

Limitations and Future Research

No explanation of crime is so well specified that it is without its limitations. The current discussion of a political economic model of urban crime, or the radical political economic approach to SDT taken here, is limited by two primary conditions. First, the argument built here was designed as an example of one way in which radical criminological explanations can be employed to deepen the underlying assumptions of SDT. As noted, SDT contains no theory that explains the distribution of social relations such as poverty and inequality within urban space. SDT simply accepts that poverty and inequality are empirical outcomes of the dispersion of social relations across urban areas. While we have attempted to illustrate how the distribution of poverty and inequality in urban spaces is impacted by political economic relations, one weakness of our argument is that its focus is limited to only these two dimensions of SDT explanations of crime and does not address other issues, such as collective efficacy, that have become more common to specific applications of social disorganization theory (Sampson, Raundenbush and Earls 1997). Additional theoretical discussion, therefore, is needed to address other aspects of SDT and the political economic foundations of other social forces such as the distribution of, for example, formal and informal social control within urban space. On this point, we suggest that the work of Foucault (1979) can be of some use. Of particular relevance in that work is Foucault’s analysis of discipline, and the role social institutions play in rendering bodies docile. Geographically, docile bodies can be expected to have specific locations within urban space depending on the density of social relations and institutional mechanisms employed to render bodies docile. Thus, where formal and informal social control is “thickest,” the likelihood of bodies being rendered docile is greatest. One should not, however, confuse this idea with the more traditional criminological assumption that the density of social control is best measured by criminal justice mechanisms alone. Indeed, from the perspective of Foucault, one could argue that the spatial distribution of criminal justice control is inversely related to dominant forms of social control that are associated with the “ordinary routines” of political economic organization that generate the overall disciplinary regime of capitalism and how that disciplinary regime is carried out in various social institutions and social relationships. Thus, where political economic organization is at its weakest, such as in zones where poverty is prevalent and areas where inequality is great, supplemental social control such as the form of social control offered by criminal justice mechanisms will be greatest. It should also be noted that these observations are empirically testable, and that future research can address the empirical utility of this view and could be related to arguments about collective efficacy—that is to normative social networks. Doing so, however, is beyond the scope of the current analysis, and requires extensive discussion beyond the space available for this discussion. Here, too, one might weave in Wacquant’s (2012, 2011, 2009) views on the association between poverty and social control.

Second, because our argument is designed as an extension of SDT, we have accepted the SDT argument without devoting any extensive criticisms to its assumptions. On this point, one of the primary criticisms that ought to be exposed is that in the SDT tradition, crime is defined as an offense against the criminal law. As radicals well know, that criticism implies that there are a wide range of offenses that SDT does not address. From a radical perspective, most important among these offenses is the exclusion of a range of crimes committed by the powerful: white collar crime, corporate crime, green crimes, and state and state-corporate crimes. Social disorganization theories do not apply to these behaviors, and have limited utility for explaining these behaviors to the extent that they only address the distribution of street crime within urban space. At the same time, however, there is sufficient reason to believe that a radical revision of SDT could be constructed to account for these omitted offenses. That is to say, since radical theory offers an explanation of the political economic of urban space, it can also be used to specify conditions and the expected locations of the crimes of the powerful. Elucidating that explanation, however, is the subject for future research. Clearly, one can state, for example, that the distribution of green crimes will cluster around industries, and that those most affected by green crimes will be the working and marginal classes as well as racial and ethnic minoritiesobservations that have already been well supported by environmental justice research (for a criminological discussion, see, Burns, Lynch and Stretesky 2008).

Final, one might argue that the theoretical explanation developed here is insufficient to the extent that it fails to address the long term relationship between poverty, economic inequality and crime, and especially the fact that over the past two decades there has been world-wide evidence of falling crime rates despite the continued production of inequality and poverty. Addressing that issue is no small task, and doing so requires, as Lynch (2013b) has suggested, revising some of the general political economic assumptions of radical criminology and addressing how political economic relations have changed and altered the relationship between poverty, inequality and crime over time. Second, in the present work, we have focused attention on the spatial relationship between crime, poverty and inequality, and evidence on that account does not suggest that these spatial relationships have changed. The fact that over time the relationship between poverty, inequality and crime changes should not be startling, and one could argue, is not outside of political economic analysis since it is not necessarily poverty and inequality themselves that generate crime from a political economic perspective. Crime is, as we have noted above, “produced,” meaning that it is an interaction of circumstances that can generate (but does not always do so) crime through the interaction of forces that cause crime, the construction and application of law, and forms of social control (such as policing and other mechanism that control the poor). Additional effort is required to work towards such an explanation that begins with the political economic analysis of social disorganization theory reviewed in this work. It is possible that the intersection of these factors varies over time and may require the kinds of social structures of accumulation arguments Carlson and Michalowski (1997) apply to explain the variation in the relationship between unemployment and crime across the historical development of capitalism.


One of the contributions radical criminology made to the criminological literature during its emergence was a through-going critique of orthodox theories of crime. The primary form of critique radical criminology posed was of the class-bias prevalent in orthodox theories. Since those early critiques, a more extensive critique of orthodox criminology failed to develop sufficiently and has not been widely applied to the scope of orthodox theories that now exist within criminology.

In the present work we have explored the extension of a radical critique of orthodox criminology from a radical perspective, drawing on the suggestion that such a critique can help both strengthen the radical analysis of crime and contribute to new radical explanations of crime, some of which have the potential to re-direct orthodox theories and perhaps undermine their arguments (e.g., Lynch and Michalowski 2006; Lynch and Groves 1986). Here, we have taken up that approach focusing our analysis on social disorganization theory.

As noted above, one of the trends that limited the development of a more extensive radical critique of orthodox criminological theory was the development of alternative critical criminological approaches which largely abandoned class analysis. In the context of more contemporary critical versions of criminology and the shift away from radical criminology, the critique of class bias in orthodox theories was lost, and further refinement of radical critiques of orthodox theories failed to appear in the criminological literature. In place of more developed radical critiques of orthodox criminological theories, critical criminologists tended to introduce much more abstract critiques of orthodox theory, many of which drew upon post-modern approaches of various types. The relevance of those more abstract critical criminological critiques were essentially lost on orthodox criminological theorists who began to ignore the critical criminological critique of orthodox criminology (Lynch 2013b). In the end, the in-roads made by radical criminology through class-based analysis seem to have been undermined by the development of the more abstract critique posed by critical criminology since the early 1990s.

Above, we have attempted to return to the radical critique of orthodox criminology initiated in the 1970s—a critique which never fully materialized and was derailed by a preference that left-leaning criminologists expressed for approaches that developed alternatives to radical criminology and the preference for class based and political economic analysis. At the same time, the declining significant of radical criminology allowed orthodox theory to regroup and return to explanations that either purposefully ignored or became indifferent to existing radical criminological critiques based in class analysis and political economic theory. In the context of a weaken radical critique and the abstract nature of the new critical criminological critique, orthodox theory development was allowed to continue unabated without having to face a form of radical critique that once helped tempered orthodox criminological theory and required it to address the class-based critique posed by radical criminologists.

In the present analysis we have returned to the radical critique of criminology and here we have offered up a new radically situated critique of social disorganization theory. We have not done so to reject the lessons learned from SDT, but rather to illustrate that radical criminological can, (1) explain some of the central features of SDT research within the context of a radical approach and (2) deepen and replace some of the ungrounded assumptions of SDT. As Lynch and Michalowski (2006) argue, such efforts are theoretically subversive to the extent that the findings produced by orthodox theory can be shown to comport with radical expectations. Doing so produces a serious threat to orthodox theories that are incapable of aligning their expectations with the alternatives radical criminology poses.

In posing the critique of SDT found above it is not, however, our intention to undermine SDT completely—that is, to reject the insights of SDT as completely irrelevant for criminology. Rather, our critique points out that many of the empirical results from SDT sit well with radical criminological expectations, and extend SDT by explaining how factors such as poverty and inequality in urban areas are produced by the structure of capitalism. This type of radical extension of SDTand other orthodox theories of crimecreates a more complete explanation of the processes that generate crime in urban areas in contemporary capitalist economies. Whether the approach outlined here is treated as a hybrid theory that emerges from an integration of orthodox and or radical views or as orthodox or radical theory is of little consequence. More important is that the resulting explanation contributes to criminological knowledge concerning how economic, social and political forces intersect to produce crime and to illustrate a more complete structural explanation of crime.

In the present article, we have argued that SDT misses an important point because it does not adequately address how social structure, and more precisely, political economy, explains the emergence of poverty and inequality and their distribution in urban areas. To be sure, SDT has a valid point to make about the connection between poverty, inequality and crime. At the same time, the SDT approach fails to appreciate that poverty and inequality cannot be taken as givens but that their existence must be explained to produce a well-rounded explanation of crime in urban areas. In the present work, we have illustrated that radical political economic theory can fill in that void in SDT.

With respect to policy, it is also useful to briefly comment on one of the core issues that this journal promotes—namely, that radical criminology needs to become more insurgent and active in its struggle against capitalism (Shantz 2014). How, for example, is the type of theoretical analysis posed here insurgent? If by insurgent we mean revolutionary, then one might suggest that the present analysis is, at best, a weak form of insurgency since it promotes the coupling of radical and orthodox analysis rather than the immediate revolutionary step of overthrowing orthodox analysis. In contrast to that view, however, we pose that the pathway to revolution is sometimes long, and that incremental steps can help facilitate future insurgency. The step taken here, for example, is also insurgent because it takes the first step in undermining the hegemonic domination of orthodox theory within criminology. Beyond that, our approach can also be considered insurgent to the extent that it fosters policy responses to factors such as poverty and inequality as causes of crime that can only be successfully addressed by changing the economic, social and political structure of capitalism.

In closing, we would like to point out that this article is also insurgent in an unexpected way. As a collaboration between a radical criminologist and a structural criminologist who has made contributions to the SDT literature, the insurgent nature of the current work identifies areas of compatibility between radical and orthodox explanations of crime which can be explored through collaborative efforts. That collaboration has required that both of us temper our approach at different points in the above discussion, and struggle with presenting issues related to radical and SDT approaches in ways that are not objectionable to either side. Such collaborations can be employed to advance the views of both sides in ways that reasonably reflect both positions and in the end, produces a new approach that both sides can respect. That collaborative effort is in itself revolutionary and illustrates how criminology can be advanced by mutual understanding and cooperation as opposed to one-sided opposition. Such collaborative effort allows the radical/critical to emerge in ways that are respectful of orthodox sensitivities and facilitates greater acceptance of radical criminological theory, which would indeed be a revolutionary step within criminology.



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