broken windows theory

(redirected from broken windows syndrome)

broken windows theory

A theory in criminology supported by various experiments regarding the norm-setting and signalling effects of urban chaos (e.g., broken windows, disrepair of buildings, poorly groomed parks, etc.) and vandalism on further crime and anti-social behaviour.

While interpretations of the data differ according to the author, the experiments suggest that correction of small problems—which, if left in disrepair, signal an indifference to the community by the powers of authority—prevents that negative message from extending to an entire building, institution or section of a community.