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Neighborhood Factors Related to the Likelihood of Successful Informal Social Control Efforts

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 42 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2014 Pages: 421-430
Barbara D. Warner
Date Published
September 2014
10 pages
This study calls attention to the transactional nature of informal social control by examining neighborhood factors related to the likelihood of positive resident responses to informal social control.
As used in this study, informal social control refers to the behavior engaged in by residents of a neighborhood to control inappropriate public behavior and thereby prevent conditions that are conducive to the emergence of criminal and problem behaviors. This study found that neighborhood mobility decreased the odds of positive responses to informal social control, as measured by a willingness among residents to "give in" and "talk it out" when there is conflict about how neighbors are behaving. In disadvantaged neighborhoods, residents were less likely to "give in" or change their behaviors in accordance with the wishes and standards of other residents. Neighborhood-level measures of social cohesion and faith in the police were also found to increase the odds of residents responding positively to efforts of informal social control by their neighbors. In contrast, social ties were not found to significantly influence the likelihood of positive responses to informal social control. The study used surveys of approximately 2,300 residents across 66 neighborhoods, supplemented with census data on neighborhood characteristics at the block group level. 4 tables and 50 references