Visions of a Violent Chicago: A Reading of Early20th Century Sociology
24 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2016
Date Written: June 23, 2016
Early 20th century Chicago residents witnessed a massive in-migration of foreign-born immigrants and black Americans. These migrants settled among friends and family in urban Chicago. Their number expanded and they dispersed across urban neighborhoods where they were met with aggression and violence incited by Chicago’s native white population. The sociologists of that era linked those migrant-borne communities with poverty and crime. This article is a synchronic account of the intellectual perspectives of early 20th century sociologists that attempted to explain aggression in Chicago with of some of the most prominent theories. The work of Frederick Thrasher merits special attention. Thrasher created a subtle explanatory theory that links the effect of cultures in close proximity, acculturation, and crime. Other researchers of the early 20th century approached crime and poverty in ways that clearly show the blinders placed upon research by the bigotries of the time. This article concludes its reading of the early 20th century sociology of crime in Chicago by examining the place of gangs within that body of work. An explanation of the scholarly machinations that transformed these synchronic theories into a diachronic progression of sociological theories of poverty and crime was not our intention nor do we suggest that these synchronic theories of nearly a century ago can account for modern violence in Chicago.
Keywords: Antagonistic acculturation, culture contact
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation