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Racially Homophilous Social Ties and Informal Social Control

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 53 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2015 Pages: 204-230
Date Published
May 2015
27 pages
This study goes beyond previous studies by examining the effects of both racially homophilous and interracial friendship networks on informal social control.
Social disorganization theory argues that racial/ethnic heterogeneity is a key neighborhood characteristic leading to social disorganization and, consequently, higher levels of crime. Heterogeneity's effect is argued to be a result of its fragmentation of social ties along racial/ethnic lines, which creates racially homophilous social networks with few ties bridging racial/ethnic groups. Most studies of social ties in social disorganization models, however, have examined their quantity and left unaddressed the extent to which ties are within or across different racial groups. Using multilevel models and data from 66 neighborhoods with approximately 2,300 respondents, the current study found that heterogeneity actually increased the average percentage of residents with interracial friendship networks, but the percentage of residents with interracial networks decreased the likelihood of informal social control. In contrast, the percentage of residents with White racially homophilous networks increased the likelihood of informal social control. Examining the microcontext of individuals' networks, however, the study found residents with interracial ties reported higher likelihoods of informal social control and that this effect was enhanced in neighborhoods with higher percentages of non-White racially homophilous networks. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: May 1, 2015