Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Philip Kasinitz

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Sociology


Crime; Law; and Deviance; Ethnography; Urban Sociology


Counter to national trends increasing the size of the prison rolls, New York City has effectively decreased prison use while simultaneously decreasing the crime rate. This, however, has come at a particularly damaging cost to many communities throughout the 5 boroughs. Although documented frisks began to decline in 2012, the impact of aggressive policing is still felt on both the individual and community level. Additionally, with New York widely held as a "success" story in its ability to reduce street crime, and with other cities already beginning to replicate the NYPD model, such an analysis of the community effects of this form of policing could have widespread implications.

This project draws from approximately two years of intensive ethnographic fieldwork that took place during the period directly before the landmark Floyd v. City of New York decision. Research was conducted in and around the 40th, 42nd, and 44th precincts of the South Bronx, the latter of which was recently recognized by the New York Times as having one of the "highest use(s) of force" in the entire city. Relying primarily on participant observation, informal interviews, focus groups and life-history interviews, this dissertation seeks to examine how community members make sense of aggressive policing tactics and explores the strategies and sources of resilience utilized by these individuals to "get by." I take a close look at residents' (re)conception of what it means to be a citizen and just how their right to public space has been transformed by aggressive policing tactics. My findings suggest a substantial erosion of faith in local and state institutions. Moreover, these aggressive policing tactics discourage the formation of social ties in the neighborhood--the very networks needed to get ahead.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Tuesday, May 27, 2025

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