Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy

Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy

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Why are some neighborhoods more prone to experience violent episodes than others? What is the extent and in what sociologically measurable ways do communities contribute to the causation and prevention of crime in their neighborhoods? Are neighborhood-level predictors adequate to explain differences in violent crime rates in the respective communities? These are some of the questions addressed by this statistically intense paper published in Science 1997, by Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls.
The authors analyzed data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), dividing the communities into neighborhood clusters (NCs) based on census indicators and geographical continuity. The residents were interviewed in their homes as part of the community survey and their responses were categorized into indicators and measures such as concentrated disadvantage, immigrant concentration, residential stability, social cohesion and trust, and informal social control (the latter two combined to form ‘collective efficacy’). Multilevel statistical models were then created with these and several other predictor variables. The primary results found here were that collective efficacy, defined as “social cohesion among neighbors combined with their willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good”, was negatively associated with violence and acted as a mediator between the association of concentrated disadvantage and residential instability, with violence. Even with the stated limitations that the analysis was cross-sectional and no causal relationship was proven, the simple message that comes forth from this study is that there is less likelihood of violence and crime in neighborhoods where the residents have better social ...

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... (2009). Violent offenses associated with co-occurring substance use and mental health problems: evidence from CJDATS. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 21(7), 51-69.
Sampson, R., & Laub, J. (1990). Crime and Deviance over the Life course: the salience of adult social bonds. American Sociological Review, 55(5), 609-627.
Sampson, R., Raudenbush, S., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918-924.

Saxana, S. (n.d.). WHO | Community mental health services will lessen social exclusion, says WHO. World Health Organization. Retrieved March 10, 2010, from

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