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Collective Efficacy and Crime

Ruth Triplett


As described by Sampson et al. in 1997, collective efficacy describes a neighborhood-level process that is important to understanding variation in crime rates across neighborhoods. Collective efficacy involves both the willingness of individuals in a neighborhood to work together toward a common goal, such as crime control, and mutual trust. Since the discussion of collective efficacy in the initial publication in 1997, collective efficacy has been an important new addition to criminology's understanding of the causes of crime across neighborhoods. Interest in neighborhoods and crime comes from the long recognized fact that there is substantial variation in crime rates across cities and neighborhoods within cities. Explaining this fact was key to the work of early theorists in the Chicago School, in particular Shaw and McKay. Examining crime rates in the city of Chicago, Shaw and McKay found two facts: crime rates vary substantially across areas of the city, and over time crime rates remain stable in areas. Building on the work of Park and Burgess, Shaw and McKay argued that social disorganization is the cause of the variation in neighborhood crime rates. Though not clearly defined by Shaw and McKay, social disorganization was defined by later theorists as revolving around the inability of individuals in a neighborhood to agree upon and work toward a common goal. Social disorganization ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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