Crime, social capital, and community participation

Am J Community Psychol. 2004 Dec;34(3-4):219-33. doi: 10.1007/s10464-004-7416-2.


Social disorganization at the neighborhood and community levels has been consistently linked to various forms of criminal activity. However,a very much smaller body of literature addresses the effects of crime on community organizations. In some studies, crime appears to energize communities while in others, crime leads to withdrawal from community life. Using department of health crime victimization data and interviews with 2,985 low-income inner city residents living in 487 multi-family dwellings, a multi-level model examined the relationships among crime victimization, social organization, and participation in neighborhood organizations. Social organization at the individual and building levels was measured using recent formulations of social capital theory. Findings regarding crime suggested more signs of a chilling effect on participation than of an energizing effect, especially at the building level. Social capital at the building level was more strongly and consistently related to participation in community organizations than was crime.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Social Alienation*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data