Decoding Disorder: On Public Sensitivity to Low-Level Deviance
19 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 10, 2010
Neighborhood disorder refers to those cues in the environment that signal to observers first a weak social order, second the erosion of shared commitments to dominant norms and values, and third the failure of authorities to regulate behaviour in public space. Our study links public sensitivity to disorderly cues - i.e. differential tolerance to environmental aspects like graffiti and young people hanging around in public space - to fear of crime, concerns about collective efficacy, and anxieties about long-term social change. We propose a reciprocal process in which perceived disorder shapes fear of crime and fear of crime heightens public sensitivity to disorderly cues. We conclude with the idea that 'seeing' disorder and 'fearing' crime exacerbate public concerns about social norms and moral breakdown.
Keywords: neighborhood disorder, fear of crime, collective efficacy, social trust
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