Measuring Institutional Strength: Examining the Role of Neighborhood-Based Institutions in Understanding Neighborhood Rates of Crime

Ruth Triplett, Old Dominion University
Ivan Y. Sun, Old Dominion University
Randy R. Gainey, Old Dominion University

ABSTRACT
Recently, social disorganization theorists have begun to pay increasing attention to the role of institutions in understanding neighborhood rates of crime. For example, in his 2002 Presidential address to the American Society of Criminology, Sampson stressed the importance of institutions. He argued that, institutions matter because they are "keys to generating social goods...and collective efficacy." Of central concern in this new area is the question of how best to capture the important characteristics of institutions that shape neighborhood rates of crime. Triplett, Gainey and Sun (forthcoming), recently proposed a model of instituional strength and neighborhood crime rates which argued that institutional strength is captured by stability, resources, a clear delineation of roles and statuses, and interconnectedness. In this paper, a preliminary test of the model is examined using data collected from three Virginia cities. The first part of the analysis uses data on neighborhood-based organizations to test a measurement model of institutional strength. The second part of the analysis examines the role institutional strength in shaping neighborhood levels of information social control and rates of crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006