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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Criminology, Law & Society

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UC Irvine’s distinctive, interdisciplinary Department of Criminology, Law and Society (CLS) integrates two complementary areas of scholarship — criminology and law & society (sometimes called socio-legal studies). It is the only criminology department, and one of only two law & society units, in the University of California system. CLS conducts research and teaching activities that focus on the causes, manifestations, and consequences of criminal behavior, methods of social control, and the relationships and interactions between law, social structure and cultural practices.

Criminology, Law & Society

There are 613 publications in this collection, published between 1976 and 2024.
Faculty Publications (613)

Do Fringe Banks Create Fringe Neighborhoods? Examining the Spatial Relationship between Fringe Banking and Neighborhood Crime Rates

In the aftermath of one of the worst recessions in US history, high unemployment has placed millions of Americans in precarious financial positions. More than ever, Americans are opting out of traditional financial services, relying instead on “fringe lenders” such as check cashers, payday lenders, and pawnshops to manage their finances. Given their tremendous growth and the concern that consumers who are least able to pay for high-cost, high-risk financial products are most likely to use them, fringe lenders have been the subject of controversy and the focus of much research. Largely unknown, however, are the effects of fringe lenders on the communities where they are located. Given their spatial concentration in low-income neighborhoods with greater concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities—areas with typically more crime—of concern is whether fringe lenders themselves are criminogenic. We consider this by examining the impact of several types of fringe lenders on neighborhood crime rates in Los Angeles. Our findings reveal that the presence of fringe banks on a block is related to higher crime levels, even after controlling for a range of factors known to be associated with crime rates. The presence of a fringe bank also impacts crime, particularly robbery, on adjacent blocks. Whereas we find that pawnshops have little impact on crime levels, payday lenders and check cashers have a much stronger impact. Finally, we discover there are moderating effects, as the fringe lender–crime relationship is considerably reduced if the lender is located in a higher population density area.

Reviewed Work: Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies by Mimi Sheller

When Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1757) first visited Jamaica in 1687, he witnessed women feeding sick children a mixture of milk, sugar, and cocoa. Sensing opportunity, he brought the recipe back to England and began marketing "Sir Hans Milk Chocolate" for medicinal uses. Aside from his entrepreneurialnterests, Sloane began a program of collecting, transporting, cataloguing, and studying plants from the Caribbean, many of which ended up in the Chelsea Physic Garden, an institution from which emerged such innovations as double-glazed glass windows for greenhouses, cultivated teas exported to plantations on the Indian Subcontinent, and cultivated rubber trees, sent to Malaysia. Sloane's chocolate became big business; the recipe was bought by Cadbury's. It is easy to read Sloane's story as a familiar tale of the intertwining of science, the market, and colonial extraction. It is more challenging, and more important, to ask how the intellectual project, the system of knowledge/power Sloane represents, is replicated by contemporary Caribbeanist scholarship and its forms of knowledge. The author of this stunning book poses this latter question and, in the process, calls upon contemporary Caribbeanists to consider the ethics and politics of the way Caribbean studies as a field has helped to constitute the objects of its investigations

Emergence of soil bacterial ecotypes along a climate gradient

The high diversity of soil bacteria is attributed to the spatial complexity of soil systems, where habitat heterogeneity promotes niche partitioning among bacterial taxa. This premise remains challenging to test, however, as it requires quantifying the traits of closely related soil bacteria and relating these traits to bacterial abundances and geographic distributions. Here, we sought to investigate whether the widespread soil taxon Curtobacterium consists of multiple coexisting ecotypes with differential geographic distributions. We isolated Curtobacterium strains from six sites along a climate gradient and assayed four functional traits that may contribute to niche partitioning in leaf litter, the top layer of soil. Our results revealed that cultured isolates separated into fine-scale genetic clusters that reflected distinct suites of phenotypic traits, denoting the existence of multiple ecotypes. We then quantified the distribution of Curtobacterium by analysing metagenomic data collected across the gradient over 18 months. Six abundant ecotypes were observed with differential abundances along the gradient, suggesting fine-scale niche partitioning. However, we could not clearly explain observed geographic distributions of ecotypes by relating their traits to environmental variables. Thus, while we can resolve soil bacterial ecotypes, the traits delineating their distinct niches in the environment remain unclear.

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