Ecological Labeling: Towards an Understanding of Its Development and Impacts

Derek J. Paulsen, Eastern Kentucky University

All communities, be they urban or rural, large cities or small towns, have areas that residents feel are the "bad areas" or "high crime" neighborhoods. This process, termned ecological labeling, refers to the labels that people place on areas (dangerous, safe, high crimne) and the impact thaqt these labels in turn have on the actions of people. Research dating back to the 1800's has consistently confirmed the process of ecological labeling within most communities, yet little research has been undertaken to determine either the genesis or the impacts of these labels. Specifically, almost no research exists as to why residents view these areas as high crimne or what the impact these labels have on the labeled communities and the residents of the commnunity. This research seeks to fill this void. Using a comprehensive survey analysis, the present research delves into questions concerning the impact of prior victimization, medua civeragem actual crime rates, and friendship networks on the ecological labeling process. In addition to research findings implications for the research will be explored.

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Updated 05/20/2006