Does Social Disorganization Impact Individuals’ Fear of Crime? Results from a Community Survey



Nichols, Jordan

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This study uses individual characteristics and indicators of social disorganization to model the variation in fear of crime in Fairfax County, Virginia. While the theory of social disorganization is traditionally employed to explain the presence of crime and deviance, I utilize the model to better understand variations in fear of crime among individuals. Disorganization is assessed indirectly by measuring its neighborhood-level determinants and is supplemented by four direct measures—the ability of a community to supervise teen peer groups, loitering, graffiti, and consumption of alcohol in public spaces. The study relies on data from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy’s (CEBCP) Fairfax Community Survey, the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the Fairfax County Police Department. While some of the individual-level variables significantly predict general fear of crime and fear of burglary and robbery, the intervening dimensions of social disorganization were most important in increasing the explanatory power of the models.


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Fear of crime, Social disorganization, Neighborhood effects, Fear