Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology

Social Capital and Collective Efficacy: Resource and Operating Tools of Community Social Control

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology

Social Capital and Collective Efficacy: Resource and Operating Tools of Community Social Control

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Current popularity of social capital and collective efficacy theories in community research has presented some challenges related to definition, measurement, and ontological issues that need to be addressed to facilitate future research. Although scholars have made efforts to clarify the differences between social capital and collective efficacy, the two concepts have been either used interchangeably or presented as competing ideas. The paper, through the review of relevant literatures, addresses some of these issues and argues that social capital and collective efficacy are partly overlapping and complementary to one another with regards to establishing and sustaining community social control. When social capital is activated in the specific direction to develop social control, collective efficacy plays an important role by providing a connection and activating the resource of social capital for the specific goal of safety. Social capital alone cannot guarantee safety, but collective efficacy cannot exist in absence of social capital.

Key Words: Social Capital, Collective Efficacy, Crime and Disorder, Social Control, Neighborhood

Social Capital and Collective Efficacy: Resource and Operating Tools of Community Social Control

INTRODUCTION

The concepts of social capital and collective efficacy have recently gained popularity in community research in criminology. Both are in the process of getting shaped and re-shaped. Several problems are being encountered in defining and measuring these concepts. First, there are no accepted working definitions as different scholars define these concepts differently. The issue of definition is more challenging in case of social capital because the concept is interdisciplinary and multidimensional. Second, the relationship between social capital and collective efficacy is somewhat confusing. Scholars have attempted to clarify the similarities and differences between them. Some have conceptualized them as competing and conflicting concepts, while others have used them interchangeably. Third, measurements of these concepts remain issues mainly because of lack of consensus on working definitions. Finally, the relationship between social capital, collective efficacy, and informal social control also needs some clarifications. The purpose of the paper is to address these issues by reviewing relevant literatures.

Social capital may be defined as a community stock of social trust and norms of reciprocity embedded in social networks that facilitates collective actions. This definition integrates the elements of several definitions of social capital provided by scholars. Collective efficacy is defined as a form of social organization that combines social cohesion and shared expectations for social control (Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earl, 1997; Sampson, 2006). Currently, the theories of social capital and collective efficacy are used in criminology in community research (Kubrin & Weitzer, 2003; Morenoff, Sampson, & Raudenbush, 2001; Putnam, 2001, 2002; Rose & Clear, 1998; Rosenfeld, Messner, & Baumer, 2001; Sampson et al., 1997; Sampson & Raudenbush, 1999). Several studies have reported that either social capital is positively related with crime and disorder or it is insufficient to activate social control at neighborhood level (Sampson, 2006; Cancino, 2005; Pattillo, 1998). This is probably due to the narrow conceptualization of the definition of social capital in social disorganization literature where social capital is equated with social networks and early works in social disorganization assumed that networks alone directly affect the community social control (Bursik, 1988; Kubrin & Weitzer 2003). The recent research in collective efficacy, while accepting the necessity of some networking for activation of neighborhood collective efficacy, reports potential negative externalities of dense ties and argues for dispensability and undesirability of dense ties (Pattillo, 1998; Sampson, 2006). …

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