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Neighborhood and Crime Essay

The broken windows theory recommended in 1982 by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson uses broken windows as an allegory for tragedies that happen within neighborhoods (Wilson, J. Q., & Kelling, G. L. (2003). The theory connects vulgarity and disaster within a society to sequential occurrences of severe criminal activity. The theory has an advantage over most of its predecessors in that it ensures that programs within the criminal justice realm can bring about change instead of depending on the social policy. In the past, theories of social disorganization provided expensive solutions that would consume a lot of time to be effective. Broken windows theory is related to the booksellers in “Sidewalk” in that the book brings to question the policing theory of broken window and perceives every sign of a disorder that is visible ranging from drunken vagrants to window panes that are cracked and views them as inducements to crimes that are more serious. Instead of seeing the book peddlers as broken windows, Duneier advocates that they should be seen as fixed windows. The theory of broken windows affirms that there is a thin line between crime and disorder. Similarly, the vendors in the film “Sidewalk” are characterized by public arguments and drunkenness. This code of conduct is connected to disorder thus affecting the surrounding society.

The race and social stratification of the film “Sidewalk” can partly be connected to self-appointed public characters. The characters in the movie exemplify the issue of social stratification by playing self-direction and same role as well as the psychological fulfillment of family or formal occupations (Sampson & Raudenbush, 2005). They create a social organization that is informal which allows them to survive against the external social structure while the organization prepares the division of labor and property rights. The booksellers engage in nonstandard behavior such as unwilling engagement of passersby and urination which are regarded as magnets of criminal activity. They also commit the crime of stealing books which they later sell to individuals at a lower price (Duneier & Carter,1999). Since most of the vendors are black men, they feel that the system does not heed to their challenges.  The social stratification of most of the characters in the film “Sidewalk” is founded on what can be regarded as public characters who are self-appointed. A public character is an individual who is usually in frequent contact with a huge circle of individuals. Additionally, a public character is adequately interested in making himself a public figure. A public figure does not need wisdom or special talent to attain his function, which is evident in the film “Sidewalk” because the vendors wish to make themselves public figures. The character of most of the vendors is that their lives are public because they have different conversations with different individuals throughout the day. The film “Sidewalk” presents racial relations through deprived blacks who work and constantly interact with white individuals. At first sight, the biographical concerns of why and how the blacks ended up on these streets explore straight into the institutional and cultural effects of racial connections. Additionally, the blacks and internal attitudes are used to display characterizations that are deceptive of working in the streets.

The vendors should not be allowed to take part in informal underground activities because they will be damaged instead of getting help. The vendors affect the neighborhood in that they get a firsthand observation on how the universe operates and how other people perceive it. The vendors prove to the society that different cultural, political and economic aspects lead to the creation of habitat blocks and create a place where the poor can interweave complementary features thus organizing themselves for purposes of subsistence. The effect of the vendors on the neighborhood is that they are perceived as undesirable and ugly chaotic men, with the ability to cause disorder and crime. The society sees these men as drug addicts and alcoholics with many of them being homeless and trying to live improved lives within the structure of the weaknesses of their own society. The vendors in the film “Sidewalk” are also perceived as squeegee men and beggars who have intimidating and parasitic behavior. The public also views the street vendors as individuals who have thronged an exquisite public space which they believe could be put into better use.



Duneier, M., & Carter, O. (1999). Sidewalk. Macmillan.

Sampson, R. J., & Raudenbush, S. W. (2005). Neighborhood stigma and the perception of disorder. Focus24(1), 7-11.

Wilson, J. Q., & Kelling, G. L. (2003). Broken Windows: The police and neighborhood safety. Criminological perspectives: essential readings400.