U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Directly Intervene or Call the Authorities?: A Study of Forms of Neighborhood Social Control Within a Social Disorganization Framework

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 45 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 99-130
Date Published
February 2007
32 pages

This study examined the extent to which neighborhood characteristics were related to residents’ likelihood of using two different forms of informal social control: direct informal social control (i.e., through direct intervention) and indirect informal social control (i.e., through mobilizing formal authorities).


Study findings indicate that social ties increase the likelihood of direct informal social control but not indirect informal social control; whereas social cohesion and trust decreases indirect informal social control but does not have a significant effect on direct informal social control. Faith in the police is not found to affect either form of informal social control. One of the most frequent contexts in which social control is used is that of interpersonal disputes. Neighborhood disputes, therefore, offer a broad basis for examining the likelihood of using different forms of social control for behaviors that arise in neighborhoods. This study examined neighborhood residents’ likelihood of addressing disputes by directly engaging in informal social control or by indirectly engaging in informal social control through mobilizing formal social control agents. Tables, references

Date Published: February 1, 2007