Collective Efficacy and Property Crime Victimization Among a Sample of Canadian Public Housing Residents

Andreas Tomaszewski, Eastern Michigan University

A growing body of research shows that neighborhood / collective efficacy is negatively related to crime. Much of this research focuses on violent crime in urban areas consisting of many different neighbourhoods, such as "upscale" and gentrified neighbourhoods (e.g., Census Tracts and Census Metropolitan Areas), ethnically diverse and socially stratified neighborouhoods, as well as deteriorating inner cities and other urban areas of concentrated disadvantage. However, few studies have exclusively focused on urban areas of concentrated disadvantage and on property crime victimization. Following the work of Robert Sampson and colleagues on "collective efficacy" (informal social control, social cohesion and trust) and crime, this study uses data from the West Town Study (WTS), conducted in six public housing neighbourhoods in an economically disadvantaged western section of an urban area in eastern Ontario, Canada, and attempts to answer the following questions: (1) What factors are associated with collective efficacy? (2) What are the associations between collective efficacy and property crime victimization? (3) Are residents of severely distressed households more likely to be victimized by property crime than those not living in such households? Empirical and theoretical considerations are raised and policy implications are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006