The Power of Context Essay

tThe power of context, written by Malcolm Gladwell, discuss’ many different social change theories such as the “Broken Windows Theory”, “Tipping Points” and the “Power of Context theory”. All of these theories were researched and studies performed to prove that we are influenced by the features of our immediate social and physical world, these shaping who we are and how we act.


These theories have been seen in every part of town, Graffiti painted buildings and broken windows in vacant houses. Where there are news paper articles written about the few that have taken the initiative to turn their neighborhood around. Where neighbors rally to paint over graffiti, fix broken windows, make a park where once was a gang hangout. Where as sad as it may seem, most of the children fit into the description of the four youths who attempted to mug Goetz December 22 ,1984.

Where Goetz was dubbed the “Subway Vigilante” after fighting back against he would be muggers, shooting them in the subway and later being acquitted on charges of assault and attempted murder. Goetz’ case has become a symbol of a particular, dark moment in New York City history, the moment when the city’s crime problem reached epidemic proportions or the “Tipping Point”.

The “Tipping Point” where in epidemiology the “tipping point” is the moment when a virus reaches critical mass. Gladwell links these would have been muggers and the shooting to another theory, one that would change the atmosphere and quite possibly the culture of the neighborhood the thugs came from. The “Broken Window Theory” was the brainchild of the criminalogistics James Q Wilson and George Kelling. Wilson and Kelling argued that “crime is the inevitable result of disorder.

If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. In a city, relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder, and aggressive panhandling, they write, are all the equivalent of broken windows, invitations to more serious crimes.” (Gladwell, 237)

The “Power of Context” theory that Gladwell writes about and the “Broken Windows Theory” are one and the same We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat”. The same would be true in you are what you surround yourself with. I feel that the “Power of Context” is true in the context that if you live in a home you are proud of, you will be more confident in your self worth.

If you surround yourself with people more intelligent than yourself, you will increase your mental aptitude. Those that set goals and stick to them seem to achieve more than those who never set goals. I feel that Gladwell did a great job in personifying the theories and arguing their relevance.

Works Cited
Gladwell, Malcolm. Gladwell, Malcolm. The Power of Context. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Publishing Company, 2009.

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