The Systemic Model of Social Disorganization--Assessing Public Controls With Hierarchial Modeling Techniques

Timothy M. Bray, Illinois State Police

The systemic model of social disorganization theory holds that a community's ability to control criminal behavior within its borders is, in part, effected by its ability to draw on the resources of the larger community in which it is situated -- so-called public controls. This paper will evaluate the effects of public controls, working within this systemic framework of social disorganization theory, and seeks to explore the following questions: To what extent do public resources available in larger spatial aggregates (e.g., socially defined neighborhoods) exert protective or aggravating effects which suppress or exacerbate the effects of homicide of typical social disorganization covariates within the smaller spatial aggregates (e.g., census defined block groups) which comprise them? The analyses employed to investigate this question will be performed in the socially defined neighborhoods of St. Louis, using homicide data taken from the St. Louis homicide project and sociodemographic information taken from the 1990 United States Census. Additional data are taken from the St. Louis Public Schools and the St. Louis Community Development Agency data on community development block grants (CDBG) disbursements. Community attachment is measured through the turnout of registered voters for biennial school board elections.

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Updated 05/20/2006