Social Ties, Collective Efficacy, and Urban Crime

Christopher R. Browning, The Ohio State University

A foudation assumption of the systemic reformulation of the social disorganization perspective links dense kin networks with increased community capacity to regulate crime. This research examines the unique contribution of kin networks to collective efficacy--a community's level of social cohesion and informal social control--and neighborhood crime rates. Using Hierarchical Linear Models on data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (in combination with census and official crime data), I find that 1) the density of kin networks is not strongly correlated with the density of friendship ties in urban communities, 2) kin network density is not associated with collective efficacy when controlling for the level of friendship ties, and 3) kin network density interacts with collective efficacy in their association with crime rates such that kin networks have a positive effect on crime rates at higher levels of collective efficacy. The latter effect is interpreted as a product of the protective effect for offenders of social capital provided by dense kin networks in neighborhoods with higher overall levels of social organization.

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Updated 05/20/2006