Dimensions of Local Organization: From Theory to Measurement in Neighborhood and Crime Studies

Kevin M. Drakulich, University of Washington

Crime is differentially distributed across neighborhoods in urban areas, related to residential stability, poverty, race and ethnicity. Criminologists have long sought to find a mechanism for this relationship, resulting in numerous studies employing social disorganization, social capital and collective efficacy frameworks. While the studies have been similar in their orientation to the relations between neighbors, the studies have identifed (from theory) operationalized and tested very different dimensions of neighborhood organization. Furthermore, most studies have identified only a single dimension of neighborhood organization, and rarely has a single study tried to identify or compare more than one dimension. Recent studies that do attempt to identify more than one dimension of neighborhood organization (Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls 1997; Samspson, Morenoff and Earls 1999) have found high correlations between the dimensions. A review of the various dimensions identified through studies and their comparison within the 'Project on Human development in Chicago Neighborhoods' data set will allow a more clear view of the relationship between the variously identified dimensions, which in turn will shed light on the question of a single or multiple dimensions of local organization.

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Updated 05/20/2006