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Community Organizations and Crime: An Examination of the Social-Institutional Processes of Neighborhoods

Award Information

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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2004, $198,757)

Research Goals and Objectives. The main goal of the study is to articulate and measure how local organizations are linked to social control and crime in order to inform policy, research and practice around community development for crime control and public safety. The study will test a measure of community institutional capacity (CIC) that fits within the three levels of social control (Hunter, 1985) as posited by current systemic models of social disorganization. The proposed study tests the hypotheses that (1) community-based organizations and other neighborhood institutions help build formal and informal social control for neighborhoods, and (2) increased neighborhood social control is related to lower crime. Neighborhood advocates and community practitioners agree that crime and disorder are often top concerns among residents. Sociologically, institutions represent broad networks of people and places organized to achieve some commonly held function or goal. Hence, understanding the role of local institutions/organizations is of central importance to a community's abilities to achieve better outcomes.

Proposed Research Design and Methodology. The study will be conducted in 55 neighborhoods (block groups) in Washington, D.C. First, to examine the utility of the measures developed, the validity of the organizational measures will be tested by comparing them to established measures of collective efficacy and related constructs of integration and well-being. Then, longitudinal data will be used to examine the relationship between institutional capacity and crime, as well as explore the relationship among a full complement of neighborhood variables (residential stability, economic disadvantage, ethnic heterogeneity, collective efficacy, institutional capacity, and crime). The measures of institutional capacity being tested will rely on data collected on the presence, accessibility and capacity of organizations. In addition to the collection of organization data, household data will be collected for our criterion measure(s). The analysis plan will have four main components: (1) correlational analyses to determine the validity of the new measures, (2) OLS multiple regression analyses, (3) modeling within an instrumental variables framework using LISREL to examine strength and direction of relationships and (4) the testing and incorporation of spatial effects using SpaceStat. Two reports will be produced'one research report that summarizes the study, and one practitioner and community focused report that discusses the utility of measuring components of organizations and institutions to track community well-being as well as formulate public safety and capacity building strategies.

Date Created: September 14, 2004