Thursday, 14 April 2011

Assignment 5 (A): Planning for the Future.

Design Studies assignment 5 asks us to develop the topic we researched and wrote about in semester one into a research proposal. Using the knowledge and techniques we have gained so far to investigate the subject.

 Research Proposal.

The subject chosen for investigation is, ‘How the surrounding environment can affect crime.’ The interest in this subject began after reading ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. There is a section in this book that describes how the rise and fall of crime in New York City was affected by the state of the environment. Crime was at its highest when the environment was at its worst. After New York enforced their no tolerance policy and cleaned up the streets crime reduced greatly. Further research was then undertaken by looking up and reading books and journals relating to the topic. Two that were found to be the most relevant were ‘The Environment and Social Behaviour’ by Irwin Altman and ‘Street Management and City Design’ by E.P. Fowler as they both looked into how the physical environment affects people and their behaviour. This proposal will discuss what methods will be used to research the chosen subject, also to plan when and how it will be done.

The research will be undertaken in the city of Dundee. Firstly the crime rates in different areas of the city will be identified the areas with the highest and lowest rates of crime will be selected. These areas will be visited and observed noting down the surroundings and goings on, for example; is there any graffiti? Are the streets clean and tidy? What are the habits of the people there? This will generate insight into each area and differences between the two will emerge. A general understanding of the area should now be obtained however this alone will not be enough, speaking to the people who live there will be necessary.

Informal interviews with people who live in each area will be useful to gain personal opinions on why they think their community has that crime rate. People who live in the high crime rate area will be asked why they think crime is so high in their area and what they think can be done to decrease it. In the low crime rate areas they will be asked why they think it is low and what stops people in that area from committing crime. This should hopefully give some inside knowledge and lead to other questions that will prove useful in showing how the environment affects behaviour towards crime.  Informal interviews will make people feel at ease and therefore more likely to contribute valuable answers. The interviews will be conducted in a relaxed environment where people feel comfortable, perhaps with tea and biscuits in someone’s living room, or at a local community centre or coffee morning where groups of people are likely to be socialising. Hazel White a jeweller, who now works at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, found that informal interviews worked well for her. When she was gathering information for her research she went along to knitting clubs to speak to members of a community, she found that in a relaxed social space people were more willing to talk. Interviews may not be useful in cases where people want to remain anonymous this is why questionnaires will also be provided so that people can write down their true thoughts if they are worried they may be judged.
Brainstorming sessions and group sketching can be used to generate ideas of how to stop crimes being committed. It will suggest future ways of improving the community whilst also pointing out the ways in which the current environment is affecting behaviour at the moment. These sessions will also stimulate conversation and provoke new thoughts.

The people that are committing the crimes will be given questionnaires and interviewed if they are willing. They will be asked what caused them to turn to crime and if they feel their environment had any affect on this? Do they think that if their environment was different they would have been less likely to commit the crime?

Local police officers should be spoken to, finding out their opinion on how each environment affects the crime rate. The types of crimes committed in each area might link with something specific with the environment in that area, for example if the area has a lot of graffiti other people may be encouraged to graffiti as well. It could be useful to find out about the police prevention techniques and how they deal with the crime in the community and whether or not these techniques are working. There may be limitations to speaking with the police as they might not be authorised to pass on some information however any information gained will be valuable.

This research will be carried out during a one year period this will create the opportunity to observe the environment of each area at different times throughout the year. Will the summer generate more activities keeping people occupied with other things instead of crime? Or as it gets colder in the winter will people be more likely to stay indoors and less likely to be out committing crime? The work will mainly be carried out alone but a group will be brought together at different stages in the process to discuss findings, create new ideas and opinions. Discussion in a group will help stimulate the research from time to time. Once all the information has been gathered the results will be analysed between two and three weeks. A conclusion will then be made about how the surrounding environment affects crime. 

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