The Broken Windows Theory

In 1969, a group of graduate students had a great time smashing up a car. Their very strange psychology experiment is responsible for some of the most racist policing practices in America today. How did the broken windows theory go from textbooks to police departments? And will we ever know what actually solved America’s biggest crime wave?

Content note: This episode discusses a lot of racist practices specifically targeting Black, Latino, and other marginalized groups in America.

Featured image: An old building with broken windows. (Image source)

Empty and damaged housing in Chicago’s South Side in 1973. (Image source)

Stencils on an abandoned building in the South Bronx, NY in 1980. Artist John Fekner. (Image source)

A protestor against the NYPD’s use of broken windows theory in policing in 2014. (Image source)

Protestors at the No NYC Hypocrisy rally in New York City in 2017. (Image source)


Sources about the broken windows theory and other sociological and psychological theories

Sources about the crime wave

Sources about the infrastructure and demographics of inner-city neighborhoods