Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Jacqueline Braveboy-Wagner

Subject Categories

Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy | Urban Studies


Utilitarian, Minority, New York City, New South Wales, Broken Windows Theory, Police


The purpose of this thesis is to highlight and critique the ways in which utilitarianism manifests itself in comparative public policy. While public policy studies tend to focus on national levels, cities, and states can also be major sites of theoretical and policy formulation that are adopted globally. The moral ethics that are involved in public policy are especially important because these policies have a direct impact on society. Utilitarianism encompasses the logic of utility maximization: the ends justify the means and the idea that the moral ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. Through examining “Broken Windows Policing” enacted in New York City in the 1990s as well as the New South Wales Law Enforcement Act of 2002, I show that the moral framework outlined in utilitarianism can have serious negative consequences not only for people who are not included in the “greatest number” but for society as a whole. New York City and New South Wales were chosen because both cities implemented enhanced powers of police around the same time, which presented a unique opportunity to analyze the impact these policies had on societies in two different areas of the world. Through cross-national comparison, I show how utilitarianist reasoning can be harmful to decision-making in the policy sphere. I conclude by offering community policing as a successful alternative to those policies.