Helen Boritch is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Her research interests focus on female criminality and the historical development of criminal justice institutions. She is currently working on an analysis of Middlesex County, Ontario jail records.
A CENTURY OF CRIME IN TORONTO: GENDER, CLASS, AND PATTERNS OF SOCIAL CONTROL, 1859 TO 1955 *
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 567–600, November 1990
How to Cite
BORITCH, H. and HAGAN, J. (1990), A CENTURY OF CRIME IN TORONTO: GENDER, CLASS, AND PATTERNS OF SOCIAL CONTROL, 1859 TO 1955 . Criminology, 28: 567–600. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1990.tb01339.x
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Reno, Nevada, November 8–11, 1989. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.
- Issue published online: 7 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
A great deal of attention has been focused on the nature and extent of contemporary gender differences in criminality and, especially, recent increases in female crime rates. The failure to examine the relation among gender roles, social control mechanisms, and crime rates within a broad historical context, however, has contributed to several shortcomings and misconceptions in current research and theorizing. Results of a time-series analysis of male and female arrests in Toronto from 1859 to 1955 reveal an overall decline in male and female rates, as well as an overriding similarity in long-term patterns of male and female arrest rates for different categories of offenses In particular, the preponderance of public order arrests for males and females strongly confirms the enduring relation between social class and official criminality, regardless of gender. To explain the long-term reduction in female arrest rates, qualitative data are used to illustrate the historically contingent relation between gender roles and changes in formal and informal structures of social control. The findings point to the prominent role of “Yrst-wave feminists” in changing the forms of both formal and informal controls on women, which contributed to a sharp decline in female arrest rates during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.