“The Power of Context”

posted in: WMATA | 3

Photo by thisisbossi via flickr

We heard via dcist that WMATA is possibly looking at James Dougherty, who was awarded the National Safety Council’s Distinguished Service to Safety Award in 2009, to replace Alexa Dupigny-Samuels as Chief Safety Officer.

While a major focus is making sure that the tracks and equipment work properly (as it should be), we think the overall safety of the entire WMATA system needs to be addressed.

We talked to Patti, one of our board members,  about the subject and this is what she had to say:

I think the entire WMATA system is connected. Kind of like in the book, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell when they highlight the crackdown on the NYC subway system.

Patti explains the “Power of Context” from the Tipping Point to further her argument. From Wikipedia:

The Power of Context: Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. As Gladwell says, “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.” For example, “zero tolerance” efforts to combat minor crimes such as fare-beating and vandalism on the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes city-wide.

Patti goes on to say:

Maybe possible/current offenders wouldn’t be affected or wouldn’t feel a difference with more “internal” safety in WMATA. But maybe if things really changed inside of WMATA, the employees would feel an increased sense of responsibility, and would want to change their response to reported or sighted incidents of sexual harassment.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the theory of the Power of Context can be applied to improving the overall safety of WMATA and lead to a more positive response when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment on our public transportation?


3 Responses

  1. […] public transit systems should study the theory of the Power of Context as a way to deal with crimes, including sexual […]

  2. Golden Silence

    I normally like reading the Pingbacks because they usually link to a blogger with his/her take on street harassment, but the Washington Metro one at mbulah.com is a funky site. I went to it and it was a misdirect site. Readers beware!

    • hollabackdc

      we accidentally approved it. thanks golden silence!