The Ecology of Urban Unrest: the Case of Arson—Newark, New Jersey, July 1967

Daniel E. Georges

DOI: 10.2190/AF3K-BRAA-6DAB-VB4M


This study is an analysis of correlations between arson and forty-one population and housing variables, both during the year as well as during the Newark Riot of 1967. Correlations are sought for arson and socioeconomic characteristics which include race, ethnicity, unemployment by sex, density, transience, and occupation.

Arson is viewed, both as an integral phase of riot behavior and as a criminal act committed independent of any form of collective violence. A review of the classification of collective violence is presented which includes communal, commodity, and escalated riots, treason, insurrection, rebellion, belligerency, insurgency, and revolution.

Collective violence is viewed as a persisting pattern in the American social fabric and arson as an integral phase of that pattern.

The case study of Newark 1967 is turned to for a comprehensive analysis of possible causative and correlative factors of arson as both a form of violent collective behavior and as a criminal act independent of collective violence.

Correlation analysis, both the use of multiple correlation and partial correlation techniques, reveals that the correlation between arson and the preponderance of blacks in a given area appears to be remotely significant for Newark during the year 1967. However, the incidence of arson during the riot period was not as strongly correlated with the preponderance of blacks within a given social space as was the correlation between arson incidents and the numerical preponderance of blacks within a given residential space for the year 1967.

Conclusions drawn from the analysis of the data presented within this study suggest that social scientists must seriously re-evaluate those theories which assume that violence and blackness are linearly correlated without evaluating the existence of intervening variables. This study also suggests that we re-evaluate "Riffraff and Economic Deprivation

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