Stephanie W. Greenberg and William M. Rohe
After many years of limited success, policymakers have begun to realize that citizen involvement is crucial to the solution of many urban problems. This has led to a variety of citizen participation and self-help programs. Informal social control represents a more subtle form of citizen involvement with potential applicability to community problems. This chapter reviews and assesses the evidence on the effect of informal social control in neighborhoods on a major social problem: crime.
Conceptual and operational definitions of informal social control are reviewed. The effect of the social and economic characteristics of neighborhoods on the development of informal social control is also discussed. A model of the relationship between informal social control and neighborhood crime is presented.
Empirical research on the relationship between informal control and crime finds that emotional attachment to the neighborhood, perceived responsibility for and control over the neighborhood, and the expectation that oneself or one's neighbors would intervene in a criminal event are associated with low crime rates. However, emotional attachment and perceptions of control may well be an effect of area crime rates,