Title

Incivilities, Place Attachment and Crime: Block and Individual Effects

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

9-2004

Abstract

The popular incivilities hypothesis suggests physical incivilities, such as unkempt lawns and litter, and weak social ties with neighbors encourage crime. Despite a strong impact on policing policies and public awareness, this hypothesis has seldom been tested. We extend this basic model to test whether place attachments protect from crime as well. In a suburban area facing decline, multilevel (hierarchical linear modeling) analyses reveal that renters, properties with more physical incivilities, and blocks with more physical incivilities experience more subsequent crimes. Although these actual physical incivilities were important predictors of crime, residents’ perceptions of incivilities were not, suggesting that environmental incivilities act directly upon offenders, not through non-offender resident perceptions. A cross-level interaction indicated incivilities predicted crime less well on socially cohesive blocks, suggesting that social cohesion can buffer the effects of the physical environment. Weaker block level place attachments also contributed independently to individuals’ risks of crime, demonstrating that place attachment merits greater attention in neighborhood revitalization and crime reduction interventions.

Keywords

The popular incivilities hypothesis suggests physical incivilities, such as unkempt lawns and litter, and weak social ties with neighbors encourage crime. Despite a strong impact on policing policies and public awareness, this hypothesis has seldom been tested. We extend this basic model to test whether place attachments protect from crime as well. In a suburban area facing decline, multilevel (hierarchical linear modeling) analyses reveal that renters, properties with more physical incivilities, and blocks with more physical incivilities experience more subsequent crimes. Although these actual physical incivilities were important predictors of crime, residents’ perceptions of incivilities were not, suggesting that environmental incivilities act directly upon offenders, not through non-offender resident perceptions. A cross-level interaction indicated incivilities predicted crime less well on socially cohesive blocks, suggesting that social cohesion can buffer the effects of the physical environment. Weaker block level place attachments also contributed independently to individuals’ risks of crime, demonstrating that place attachment merits greater attention in neighborhood revitalization and crime reduction interventions

Discipline

Business

Research Areas

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

Publication

Journal of Environmental Psychology

Volume

24

Issue

3

First Page

359

Last Page

371

ISSN

0272-4944

Identifier

10.1016/j.jenvp.2004.01.001

Publisher

Elsevier