Neighborhood boundaries and structural determinants of social disorganization: Examining the validity of commonly used measures
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Social disorganization theory is a macro-level approach to understanding variation in levels of neighborhood crime and delinquency. Contemporary studies of social disorganization typically rely on administratively defined geographic boundaries (i.e., census blocks, block groups, or tracts) and demographic data aggregated to corresponding areas as proxies for neighborhoods and neighborhood conditions. Despite their frequent use, it is unknown whether official measures of neighborhoods and corresponding measures of neighborhood conditions are valid indicators of these concepts. Using data from a survey of 116 residents of Clark County, Nevada, the current study tests the validity of commonly used measures of neighborhood boundaries and neighborhood structural conditions in the context of social disorganization theory. Results show that administrative proxies of neighborhoods are inconsistent with perceived neighborhood boundaries and that perceived neighborhood structural determinants of social disorganization are also inconsistent with official measures. Findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications and direction for future research.
Western Criminology Review
© 2013 Western Criminology Review. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.