Collective Action, Structural Disadvantage and Crime

author Wesley G. Skogan
journal Cahiers Politiestudies (ISSN: 1784-5300)
volume Jaargang 2012
issue 25. Tides and currents in police theories
section Artikelen
date of publication Dec. 12, 2012
language English
pagina 135

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?