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Social and Physical Neighbourhood Effects and Crime: Bringing Domains Together Through Collective Efficacy Theory

Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UK
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(5), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8050147
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 1 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Crime Prevention through Pro-Social Design)
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Abstract

Criminologists and social scientists have long sought to explain why crime rates vary across urban landscapes. By dissecting the city into neighbourhood units, consideration has been given to the comparable features of settings under study which may help to explain why measured crime is higher in certain areas as compared to others. Some, from the socio-spatial perspective, argue that the socio-demographic makeup of a neighbourhood influences the social processes within it relevant to the disruption of crime. Others posit that physical features of neighbourhood settings, which include its layout, architectural design, and more specific measures to ‘target harden’ buildings against property crimes, can exhibit a deterrent effect. Whilst these explanations profess discrete empirical support, little has been done to consider how these influences may come to explain neighbourhood crime rates concomitantly. In this article, I seek to develop a new socio-physical model in an attempt to integrate and appraise aspects of these domains and their purported ability to explain variations in recorded crime. To achieve this, I use Collective Efficacy theory as a central organising concept which can aid researchers in interrogating current findings. I conclude that the dichotomy between how neighbourhood settings can be both defended, and be defensible, can be addressed by considering the relevance of social cohesion in activating resident social control.
Keywords: crime prevention through environmental design; collective efficacy theory; social control; social cohesion; socio-spatial criminology; situational crime prevention; guardianship crime prevention through environmental design; collective efficacy theory; social control; social cohesion; socio-spatial criminology; situational crime prevention; guardianship
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Cole, S.J. Social and Physical Neighbourhood Effects and Crime: Bringing Domains Together Through Collective Efficacy Theory. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 147.

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