Guided by social disorganization theory and the emerging concept of collective efficacy, this study used three sources of data, including community surveys administered to 1,125 citizens nested in thirty-one residential units, and hierarchical modeling techniques to examine the effects of structural features and collective social processes, net of property crime (i.e., burglary) and citizen-level sociodemographic characteristics, on perceived incivilities (i.e., signs of physical decay and social disorder) in nonmetropolitan communities. The results showed that respondents living in economically disadvantaged geographic areas were significantly more likely to perceive their immediate surroundings in more negative terms (i.e., higher levels of incivilities). Respondents living in residential units characterized by higher levels of collective efficacy (i.e., a composite measure consisting of both cohesion and control), however, reported significantly fewer incivility problems. When assessed separately, social cohesion partially mediated the effects of economic disadvantage. The findings indicated that social disorganization theory generalizes to less densely populated, nonmetropolitan communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science