Jane Jacobs and Public Social Control

In Chapter 2 of Jane Jacobs’ book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, Jacobs describes the ways in which the safety of certain neighborhoods can be determined by the usage of sidewalks or streets. She discusses how certain areas of neighborhoods are deemed to be safer because of heavier foot traffic. But what determines whether or not a certain street will have heavy foot traffic? Why is it that the presence of police matters less than the presence of watchful neighbors?

The presence of watchful neighbors increases the likelihood of safety in a given space because of accountability. In my criminal psychology class today, we discussed the power of public social control. The point of public social control is that ordinary citizens can publicly call out their counterparts to ensure order and maintain social norms. Certain societies have stronger tendencies towards these types of practices, for example, communities in Germany. From my exploration of the neighborhood near my university, I am still unable to determine how strict citizens of Perugia are.

However, from my exploration of the neighborhood this past week I did notice how the common areas of the community were very well-kept. It was clear that effort had been put into maintaining these spaces and they seemed to be heavily trafficked by citizens and pedestrians. As Jane Jacobs stated, the popularity of these spaces increased their safety, and perhaps also their aesthetic. We did explore a park, however, that seemed to be the opposite. Apart from a few fences or rock stairs, there was little structure to it. Although the community members said that it was not necessarily a dangerous place, it seemed neglected, which can predispose it to crime. The members of the community that we met with were trying to brainstorm ways to increase the popularity of the park by hosting events or renovating the area. This is a project we will hopefully be able to help them with throughout this coming semester.

This entry was posted in Place-making, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.