Collective Action, Structural Disadvantage and Crime
|author||Wesley G. Skogan|
|journal||Cahiers Politiestudies (ISSN: 1784-5300)|
|issue||25. Tides and currents in police theories|
|date of publication||Dec. 12, 2012|
This paper compares “top down” to “bottom up” community reactions to neighborhood crime and disorder. Bottom-up efforts to defend communities are largely naturally-occurring, for they arise out of shared values and perspectives on problems, dense social relationships, civic engagement and the organizing abilities of community residents. The bottom-up neighborhood self-regulatory mechanisms examined here include informal social control, collective efficacy, community mobilization and electoral alliance-building. This research contrasts bottom-up collective action with a top-down, state-sponsored alternative, Chicago’s beat meetings. It evaluates them in terms of their relationship to concentrated disadvantage. A great deal of research on public and civil society activities that rely on voluntary participation has found that the opportunities for involvement they create typically advantage better-off neighborhoods that need them the least and already get along with the police. The question here is, do top-down or bottom-up projects hold out more hope for assisting poorer areas?