Theory of broken windows: practical sense

Quite a popular concept that is constantly found in literary works, in feature films, in everyday speech, is the theory of broken windows. Usually she is remembered with regret, shaking her head when they see something unsightly, but at the same time painfully familiar. What is it about and how to use this expression correctly? Can this principle be applied in everyday life? Worth to understand.

broken window theory

Briefly about the essence of the theory

In 1982, American sociologists Wilson and Kelling formulated the theory that a single broken window in a building causes all windows to be broken soon. In essence, this refers to a high level of tolerance for minor offenses, which becomes fertile ground for more serious crimes.

Indeed, what's the point of maintaining order where chaos already reigns? It is on this principle that the theory of broken windows is based. Garbage is often thrown where it is already dirty, and there is close to other illegal actions.Consequently, if you take out the garbage, then people are unlikely to go pouring out cigarette butts and throwing papers where it is clean.

The first practical application

A theory without practice can have a purely research interest, so in 1994, the newly elected mayor of New York, Rudolf Giuliani, with the full support of the new police chief, began to put this principle into practice. Anyone can see with their own eyes that the idea is extensive, because enthusiasts have taken on a real hotbed of crime. The subway of New York was considered an extremely dysfunctional and dangerous place, it can be seen in American feature films shot before 1994. Graffiti, trash, youth gangs, fights and even robberies. Against this background, ticketless travel seems to be an innocent blunder, but the practical meaning of the theory of broken windows lies precisely in the fact that even a single broken window cannot be considered an insignificant fact.

broken window theory book

That is why the police took up minor offenses, over and over again catching free-riders and small violators of public order. They were detained by tens and hundreds, delivered to the precinct, made up reports, fingerprinted and searched. The facts of involvement in other, more serious crimes have surfaced.It soon became clear that in the subway is better to behave in accordance with the law. The weapon remained at home or in other secluded places, the amount of garbage decreased at times. The subway became safe, and it was a real triumph of theory, confirmed by practice.

Time checking

After a brilliant experience with the New York subway, the theory of broken windows interested sociologists from other countries. Widespread fame experiments conducted in the Netherlands. Sociologists specifically provoked people to throw garbage in places not intended for this. In the role of garbage were flyers, which were fixed on parked bicycles. The ideal order around prevented people from simply throwing a piece of paper on the sidewalk, but near the wall painted with graffiti and with a certain amount of rubbish on the asphalt, people thought that the advertisement thrown away would not add anything significant to the landscape.

You can check the theory at any time, in any city. Even if you try to watch yourself, then to your own surprise you will find that throwing a wrapper from a candy or an empty cigarette pack is the easiest place to go to where some kind of garbage is already lying. If he lies on the pavement, then you will join this petty offense.If there is an urn nearby, then with high probability you will carry the garbage to it. Particularly thoughtful and principled citizens carry garbage a few blocks before they find a place where they can be culturally thrown away.

practical sense of the theory of broken windows

Use in business processes

Any working principle can be adapted for business. The theory of broken windows did not pass this fate - Maxim Batyrev in his book “45 Manager Tattoos” devoted an entire chapter to this. In particular, there is mentioned the main subtext of the theory, according to which, if someone can break the working schedule, then why can't others? Any violator provokes the rest to neglect the instructions of the leadership.

It can be said that in this case the long-known principle is paraphrased, according to which, any example is infectious, not only bad. If some employees strictly follow the rules, the rest will also be forced to follow them. Of course, there will always be rebels or silent pests. That is why not only the theory of broken windows is used - the book contains a fairly balanced set of measures that will help to create a working atmosphere that best promotes effective problem solving.

theory of broken windows batyrev

Psychological aspect

It is not for nothing that ruin in the heads is considered to be one of the most serious problems of our time, because one pernicious idea is fully capable of infecting a whole society. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that the theory of broken windows in psychology has the same meaning. School teachers can tell about this especially well. If one of the students enthusiastically promotes some frankly flawed idea, and the teacher does not respond to it adequately, you can be sure - soon there will be more such students. Moreover, those who are not imbued with an erroneous idea will suffer from this. In a figurative sense of the word, all the windows will be broken.

Order on the table - order in thoughts

From a psychological point of view, it is difficult to save oneself from a chain reaction, according to which the theory of broken windows works. We live in a difficult time, with a dynamic course of events, so it is very easy to miss some detail that pulls a psychological breakdown. That is why it is so important not to neglect the little things that cause great destruction.

Why putting order around helps to bring thoughts into a coherent system? This principle works in full accordance with the theory. Eliminating the chaos around you, you do not let him in thoughts.In addition, the systematization of the surrounding space has meditative properties, it helps to calm down perfectly.

broken window theory essay

Household use

If you look closely, then many housekeeping methods have a similar structure. Nobody offers to wait for the final cluttering of the home, so that later with full awareness of the amount of work to get to work. On the contrary, it is precisely here that the meaning of the theory of broken windows is reflected. If you give a little mess of rights, it will soon spread to the whole house. Where there is one thing lying around, you can throw the second one, and where there are a lot of things, no one will notice another ten.

Without this, it is quite difficult to accustom children to the normal management of life, because if parents consider it not normal to remove something immediately, then why should children? Whatever adults say, a personal example in any case turns out to be the best educator.

Zero tolerance for violations of law and order

Why does this principle work? We have to admit that part of the offenders can not be denied in a simple logic. Indeed, if someone does not pay attention to the rules, and nothing happens for him, then why should the rest of them strain themselves? It is on this principle that the theory of broken windows is built.New York at one time really struck by the rampant street crime, but it was enough to take on minor offenses, as the rest of the problems stretched along the chain.

broken window theory article

As a result, it was possible not only to make life safer, but the citizens themselves fully appreciated the practicality of laws and rules. Perhaps for our mentality it is somewhat strange, but it is in the USA that it is the norm to report offenses. Moreover, it is considered reprehensible to become a witness to the “broken window” and not to inform the competent authorities about this. Thus, all citizens become to some extent policemen, demonstrating zero tolerance for violations of the law.

Chain conniving and consequences

If at least one chain link turns out to be flawed, the whole structure will inevitably collapse. This principle perfectly reflects the theory of broken windows. Essays and articles on this topic regularly appear in the network in all sorts of interpretations, which once again confirms: it is worth giving up the slack, to show tolerance - and the consequences are not surprising. Rather, on the contrary, by admitting minor shortcomings, we justify and prepare the ground in advance for major problems.

As a valid example, you can bring the existing situation on the roads.It’s no secret that all road users are equal, but at the same time “some are more equal than others.” There are such categories of citizens who can violate the rules of the road, and they are unlikely to incur any responsibility for this. The reasons can be dealt with infinitely long, but if you follow the theory of broken windows, you just have to be tough on all, without exception, as the situation on the roads will be much safer and more adequate. However, as long as we see that someone can break the rules, it will be logical to assume that everyone can.

Adjacent areas

Based on the theory of broken windows, you can develop your own working strategies in almost any field of activity. For example, drawing up a business plan relies heavily on preliminary research. The demand, the competitive environment are studied, potential customers are developed, all the nuances that may affect the profitability of the future enterprise are taken into account. To do this, you have to first build exclusively speculative moves, calculating prospects, and among other techniques, the theory of broken windows can also help here.The book of Batyrev, for example, is useful for building a leadership strategy, but this is not enough.

If any large-scale process is considered as a set of small tasks, then some of them will coincide with the theory almost to the point of detail. This is also a good acting technique - to divide an extensive task into several small sub-items, each of which can be pre-processed using one or another technique, theories or practice.

sense of the theory of broken windows

How to use theory?

It is known that any theory can be used "by contradiction." Suppose we consider the theory of broken windows, an article about which in a given arrangement is found on many sites. But almost everywhere there is a schematic message: one broken window, which no one is going to re-glaze, will be the reason why all the other windows will be broken.

Let us turn the theory in meaning and take as a given a building in which there is no longer a single window left. If you start to restore it, evenly and measuredly replacing all the windows with whole, then sooner or later all the windows will turn out to be whole, even if someone tries to break them again and again.Perhaps, this direction was guided in due time in New York, restoring order from chaos.

It cannot be said that sociological or forensic theories can be considered in the same way as theorems from the school course of geometry, yet this is not mathematics. But in practical application, you can find some general concepts that allow you to predict the result and correct errors before they become apparent. Eliminating global problems, as well as changing windows in the entire building, is troublesome and expensive. It is better to immediately stop at first glance insignificant creases of chaos.

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