Understanding the Link between Social Organization and Crime in Rural Communities
Research indicates that the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and delinquency is not as strong as suggested by the leading crime theories. In fact, the economics of crime interacts with different and heterogeneous the relationships existing between crime and socioeconomic variables emerging. A few studies have previously examined the association between structural Here we examine how social trust and collective efficacy relate to community Examining the link between small manufacturing, socioeconomic deprivation, and.
The model presented views these differences as a function of variation in community contexts, family socioeconomic well-being, and the social capital available to adolescents and families. Data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey towhich included information on 14, adolescents across 2, US locales, were matched with community-level data from the US census to test the resulting model.
The disadvantage index accounted for the largest reduction in the black effect on fighting, reflecting the well-documented concentration of disadvantage in black communities. Importantly, and in agreement with the importance of family processes for social disorganization theory, the results indicate that the effect of concentrated disadvantage on fighting is mediated by more proximate processes that are linked to family well-being.
Tolan, Gorman-Smith and Henry employ data from a longitudinal study of African-American and Latino adolescent boys and their caregivers, living in poor urban communities, to test a developmental-ecological model of violence. Six annual waves of data were applied to evaluate the relations between microsystem influences of parenting and peer deviance, macrosystem influences of community structural characteristics and neighbourhood social organization, and individual involvement in violence.
Structural equation modelling analyses showed that community structural characteristics significantly predicted neighbourhood social processes. Importantly, it was found that parenting practices partially mediated the relation between neighbourhood social processes and gang membership. Consistent with the above research that social disorganization may influence the level of youth violence through its effect on family processes, other researchers have found that family processes may be used to mitigate the deleterious effects of social disorganization.
Burfeindfor example, examined the role of the family, within a larger social context, as it relates to delinquency. This study focused on 1, non-black junior and senior high school students in the US. Burfeind analyzed the interactive effects of five family dimensions in relation to four other causal variables commonly associated with delinquency involvement: Analysis revealed that family factors influenced delinquency in different ways.
Paternal discipline had an interactive effect on delinquency, such that the type of paternal discipline influenced the effect that community social disorganization and the number of delinquent friends had on delinquency. Sampson has attempted to consolidate the empirical findings that relate social disorganization to family processes and then to delinquency and youth violence.
In so doing, he has developed a community-level theory of social disorganization, which places primary emphasis on family management practices and child health and development. He notes that the embeddedness of families and children in a community context is a central feature of the theory.
Prenatal care, child abuse prevention, monitoring and supervision of youth, and other family management practices are intertwined with community networks of social organization.
Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews
Social disorganization directly and indirectly influences the care of children and other family processes, and ultimately, rates of delinquency and crime. Neighbourhood Processes Neighbourhood processes have been implicated in the link between social disorganization and crime, with a number of authors arguing for the importance of different causal pathways.
Sampson and Groves investigated how informal social controls are affected by social disorganization. Their study used aggregated data from the British Crime Survey. Their general hypothesis is that social disorganization i. The dependent measures employed in the study were total victimization, robbery, mugging, burglary, theft, and vandalism rates.
The model was first tested by analyzing data for localities in Great Britain, constructed from a national survey of 10, residents. The model was then replicated on an independent national sample of 11, residents of British localities in Results from both surveys support the hypothesis and show that social disorganization significantly influenced the intervening variables, which in turn influenced all crime outcome measures.
Sun, Triplett and Gaineyusing American data, test an extended model of social disorganization that includes the theoretical paths proposed by Sampson and Groves Their model predicts that neighbourhoods with low socio-economic status, high residential mobility, racial heterogeneity, and family disruption should have sparse local friendship networks, low organizational participation, and unsupervised youth groups.
These, in turn, are predicted to increase crime rates. To test this model, the authors used interview data from 8, residents of 36 neighbourhoods in seven US cities. The findings offered partial support for the Sampson and Groves model, since social disorganization variables were more effective in transmitting the effects of structural characteristics on assault compared with robbery.
Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls examined how social disorganization influences violence and crime, via its effects on collective efficacy.
It follows that socially cohesive neighbourhoods will prove the most fertile contexts for the realization of social control. Using aggregated data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighbourhoods, they found that the traditional social disorganization variables explained 70 per cent of the variation in their collective efficacy measures, which, in turn, effectively mediated much of the direct effects of the social disorganization variables on violence and crime. They argue that updated social disorganization models facilitate the assessment of truly important social processes and dynamics that result in cohesive and supportive neighbourhoods.
These authors hypothesized that a sense of community was a more valid, comprehensive, and applicable measure for the mediating variables in social disorganization theory. Data for this study was gathered by interviews in — The sample consisted of tenth-graders, one parent, and one neighbour of each tenth-grader. Mediation testing employed the principles outlined by Baron and Kenny Results supported the hypothesis that sense of community mediates the effect of neighbourhood disadvantage on youth outcomes.
Social Disorganization and Economic Deprivation A number of studies have supported the idea that economic deprivation may be an important influence on social disorganization, which, in turn, as the previous research has indicated, is an important influence on youth violence. This proposes that economic deprivation could lead to social disorganization, which in turn leads to violence and crime.
Other researchers, in contrast, have argued that poverty conditions the effects of social disorganization on youth violence. That is, social disorganization in conjunction with poverty results in higher rates of youth violence than either social disorganization or poverty alone do.
No mediating processes are proposed in this second explanation. The research highlighted below offers partial support for both propositions, and indicates that researchers and practitioners who are interested in the effects of social disorganization on crime should also consider the importance of economic deprivation. Shaw and McKay viewed the economic well-being of a community as a major determinant of variation in rates of delinquency.
In particular, poor communities lack adequate resources to defend their interests collectively. In poor communities, institutions lack adequate money and knowledge. From the family to the community at large, money and skills for the effective performance of allotted functions are deficient or absent.
Also, the intermediate structures created in communities with populations that are more affluent and knowledgeable fail to emerge in the less resourceful slum Without intermediate structures, community wide relations are weak or cannot become established.
Shaw and McKay consistently found strong negative associations between several different indicators of neighbourhood socio-economic status and delinquency rates. However, a number of studies in the s and s argued that, while crime rates are higher in lower socio economic areas, this relationship is spurious and disappears when other area characteristics are simultaneously considered e.
Lander, for example, argued that delinquency rates reflected the level of anomie or integration in a given area and not the economic status of the area.
Other researchers, in contrast, have argued that economic deprivation is a strong predictor of youth violence, independent of other influences Baron, ; Bellair, Roscigno and Mcnulty, ; Eisler and Schissel, Social disorganization researchers, in contrast to both of the above views, argue that the relationship between economic deprivation and youth violence is more complex, and could be better understood if the concept of social disorganization is integrated with economic deprivation.
Following is an examination of research in this tradition. Blau and Blau argue that when economic inequalities are associated with ascribed characteristics such as race, this creates latent animosities and a situation characterized by social disorganization. This is because such ascriptions are perceived to be illegitimate, especially in societies that value egalitarianism. This situation is made more salient by the visible marker of race.
Blau and Blau suggest that these feelings lead to widespread social disorganization and violent crime. Blau and Blau test these assertions using US data for a sample of Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas with populations of more thanThe findings support their hypothesis. Eamon conducted research that is consistent with the findings of Blau and Blau In doing so, he examined the influence of parenting practices, environmental influences and poverty on anti-social behaviour.
Chapter 4: Social Disorganization Theory
Deviant peer pressure and neighbourhood problems partially mediate the relation between poverty and young adolescent anti-social behaviour. Both of the above studies are supportive of the idea that economic deprivation could lead to social disorganization, which in turn can lead to youth violence.
The research by Smith and JarjouraWarner and Pierceand Warner and Roundtreein contrast to the above, all support the idea that poverty may moderate the relationship between social disorganization and crime. That is, social disorganization may lead to crime, but the effects are even more pronounced when social disorganization occurs within the context of high levels of poverty.
Smith and Jarjoura examine the relationship between neighbourhood characteristics and rates of violent crime and burglary. The authors use data from 11, individuals in 57 US neighbourhoods from three Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas to test their hypotheses.
Specifically, an interaction between percentage of low income households and residential mobility is a significant predictor of violent crime. Communities that are characterized by rapid population turnover and high levels of poverty have significantly higher violent crime rates than mobile areas that are more affluent, or poor areas that are characterized by more stable populations.
These results hold, regardless of level of urbanization, and are found in each of the three Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas for which the authors examined data.The Impacts of Social Class: Crash Course Sociology #25
In the case of burglary, in contrast to violent crime, the interaction terms were not significant. Warner and Pierce examine social disorganization theory using calls to the police as a measure of crime. Data were gathered from 60 Boston neighbourhoods in The authors argue that data based on complainant reports of crime, rather than official police reports, allow for the investigation of differences in findings based on victimization data and official crime data. The rates of assault, robbery, and burglary are regressed on poverty, residential mobility, racial heterogeneity, family disruption, and structural density.
Interaction terms for poverty and heterogeneity, poverty, and mobility, and mobility and heterogeneity are also explored. The authors find that each of the social disorganization variables predicted crime rates, with poverty being the strongest and most consistent predictor. Interaction terms constructed between poverty and racial heterogeneity and poverty and residential mobility were also fairly stable predictors of crime.
Similarly to Smith and Jarjourathe results indicate that poverty strengthens the effects of social disorganization on crime. Warner and Roundtree employ a sample of Seattle census tracts and investigate the influence of poverty, racial heterogeneity, residential stability, and interaction terms on assault and burglary. Consistent with the results of Smith and Jarjoura and Warner and Piercethey find that an interaction term between poverty and residential stability significantly predicts both dependent measures.
The studies cited in this section indicate that economic deprivation is an important factor to consider when examining the influence of social disorganization on crime. Two relationships between these constructs have been suggested by the existing research. Firstly, poverty may increase social disorganization, which in turn may lead to youth violence.
Secondly, poverty may moderate or condition the relationship between social disorganization and youth violence. Specifically, the influence of social disorganization on crime may be more pronounced in poorer areas and attenuated in more affluent areas. The relative importance of social disorganization as a predictor of youth violence compared with other theories of crime In addition to examining the results of studies that use social disorganization as a predictor of youth violence, it is important to assess the relative importance of social disorganization when compared with other theories of crime.
This may be done through an assessment of the findings of review studies, and by examining the findings of meta-analytical studies that have attempted to assess the relative importance of various theories of crime.
One review study Sampson, Morenoff and Gannon-Rowley, and one meta-analytical study Pratt and Cullen, will be examined.
In doing so, they examine the range of studies that have used social disorganization as a predictor of crime to assess whether this variable has generally been found to be important. Over 40 studies published in peer-reviewed journals from the mids to are included.
The analysis evaluates the salience of social-interactional and institutional mechanisms hypothesized to account for neighbourhood-level variations in a variety of phenomena e. Neighbourhood ties, social control, mutual trust, institutional resources, disorder and routine activity patterns are highlighted.
The review indicates that crime rates are related to neighbourhood ties and patterns of interaction, social cohesion, and informal social control, and are generally supportive of a social disorganization explanation.
Pratt and Cullen conduct a meta-analysis, which examines the relative effects of macro-level predictors of crime in relation to seven macro-level criminological perspectives. The analysis included empirical studies, published between andthat contained statistical models that produced a total of 1, effect size estimates. Except for incarceration, variables indicating increased use of the criminal justice system e.
Policy Implications Pratt and Cullenin their meta-analysis of seven macro-level criminological perspectives, found that criminal justice system variables were consistently among the weakest predictors of crime, with the exception of incarceration, which was negatively related to crime rates. Over all, the most obvious implication of the findings is the likely futility of continued efforts to reduce crime by focusing exclusively on criminal justice system dynamics, with the possible exception of incarceration.
The wisdom of expanded imprisonment must nonetheless be balanced against its financial costs and its questionable impact on the social vitality of inner cities. This implies that policy-makers must exercise caution when ignoring the root causes of crime and placing potentially excessive faith in criminal justice solutions to control crime.
Social disorganization theory suggests that public spending and private investment must be concentrated in the most impoverished areas. This does not mean spending more human service dollars for the underclass by funding well-intentioned programs run by middle-class providers located on the periphery of the poorest neighbourhoods. Rather, this suggests that money be spent mainly on programs physically located in underclass neighbourhoods, run by people with ties to the neighbourhoods they intend to serve.
This policy has the effect of targeting programs for the underclass while also strengthening minority agencies or creating new agencies within very poor neighbourhoods. However, perceived safety mediated the association between community crime and both measures of social organization. Analyses suggest that social trust may be more important than collective efficacy when understanding the effect of crime on a community's culture in rural areas. Understanding these associations in rural settings can aid decision makers in shaping policies to reduce crime and juvenile delinquency.
The Socioeconomic Determinants of Crime. A Review of the Literature
Putnam, ; R. However, more research is needed with rural samples in order to better understand how social organization operates in rural and small town areas. Understanding these associations in rural settings can aid decision makers in shaping policies to improve the quality of life in these areas. Consequently, the current study uses a series of competing hypotheses in order to better understand how the social organization of rural and small town communities relates to one facet of community behavioral health, the local crime rates and the perception of safety in these communities.
Collective Efficacy and Social Trust Across the literature a number of different characteristics have been included under the umbrella of social organization, including collective efficacy, social trust, attachment, and informal social control, organizational participation, local friendship networks, and problematic adolescent groups, as well as broader concepts like social capital, to name a few Bjornstrom, c; Osgood, ; R.
The current study focuses on two central components of social organization — social trust and collective efficacy — that have been consistently related to crime, delinquency, and perceived crime in urban or mixed urban and rural samples Elliott et al. Towards this end, we are particularly interested in investigating the predictors of social organization and crime: The full social disorganization model presupposes that high levels of certain structural characteristics such as poverty, mobility, ethnic or racial heterogeneity, and income inequality are posited as barriers to communication, cohesion, and creating shared values, thereby producing low levels of social organization among community members.
Low levels of social organization are proposed to lead to high levels of crime and perceived crime. Additionally, these factors may create feelings of division and alienation among community members.
This study focuses on the role of collective efficacy and social trust. Therefore, even though there are elements of cohesion within shared values, collective efficacy's emphasis seems to focus on action. On the other hand, social trust can be defined as believing that others have a general desire to do good Kennedy et al. Social trust, then, seems to be more about personal attitudes and beliefs, and does not necessitate cohesion or action.
Given the different foci of the two concepts, collective efficacy as cohesion and action whereas social trust as belief in the goodwill of others, it is possible that they could relate differently to measures of crime. This work has been largely focused on urban areas, leaving the question of whether these associations generalize from studies of mostly urban communities to rural communities and small towns.
Further, these two constructs may be predicted by different characteristics when the context changes from urban or mixed urban and rural samples to a focus on rural and small town communities. Yet, research on the social organization of rural communities remains fairly limited.