An Empirical Examination of Crime and Collective Efficacy in a Mid-Sized Southern Community

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Abbott, James Stephen
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Middle Tennessee State University
Contemporary criminological theory is organized by schools of thought, based upon the particular theoretical premise, and reflecting basic assumptions about human behavior and influences. For example, some theories focus on causative biological factors in explaining criminal conduct, while others focus on psychological factors, or sociological factors. Still other theories examine crime using a mixed approach. Many contemporary theories of crime are based upon sociological perspectives and environmental influences, looking specifically at neighborhoods and communities and their relationship to crime. One such theory of community social disorganization examines collective efficacy within high crime areas. This theory is based upon the premise that neighborhoods and communities exhibiting high incidents of crime, are characterized by a lack of community organization, and suffer from a breakdown of informal social control. The theory contends that low collective efficacy among residents in the community, leads to higher rates of crime. This thesis will examine and test the theory of collective efficacy to determine if communities exhibiting lower levels of collective efficacy also demonstrate higher rates of crime.
Based upon the research, the null hypotheses for each of the three hypotheses were rejected. The study makes the following conclusions: Higher levels of "quality of life" among neighborhood residents, is associated with a higher level of collective efficacy in
the neighborhoods studied; neighborhoods with higher levels of collective efficacy have less reported crime; and, racial heterogeneous neighborhoods exhibit lower levels of collective efficacy.
Collective Efficacy