Friday, March 04, 2005

The perception of disorder

In March of 1982, conservative theorists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling published an article in the Atlantic Monthly introducing a crime fighting theory known as "broken windows." The theory states:

"if the first broken window in a building is not repaired, then people who like breaking windows will assume that no one cares about the building and more windows will be broken. Soon the building will have no windows...."

Now the theory is being reconsidered because new research shows that people's perceptions of disorder don't always match the actual disorder in their neighborhoods. There is also an older (2001) article from the Chronicle.

If our perceptions for disorder are off, what about our perceptions for order? Does this perception thing have any implication for libraries?

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