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Bridging Structure and Perception: On the Social Ecology of Beliefs and Worries About Neighbourhood Violence in London

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Abstract: Applying in a new setting Robert Sampson’s (2012) work on interdependent spatial patterns, we link structural characteristics of the neighbourhood to public beliefs and worries about neighbourhood violence via two intermediate mechanisms: collective efficacy and neighbourhood disorder. Analysing data from face-to-face interviews of 61,436 individuals living in 4,761 London neighbourhoods, we find that the strength of informal social control and low-level breaches of common standards of behaviour communicates information about the prevalence and threat of violent crime in one’s neighbourhood. Moreover, collective efficacy and disorder partially mediate some of the statistical effects of structural characteristics of the neighbourhood – such as concentrated disadvantage – on beliefs and worries about violent crime. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed.

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