The Perception and Fear of Crime: Implications for Neighborhood Cohesion, Social Activity, and Community Affect

Timothy F. Hartnagel

Go to article

Hartnagel, T. F. (1). The Perception and Fear of Crime: Implications for Neighborhood Cohesion, Social Activity, and Community Affect. Social Forces, 58(1), 176.

neighborhood cohesion , Perception of crime , social activity , social interaction

This research examines the relationship between the perception and fear of crime on the one hand and neighborhood cohesion, social activity, and affect for the community on the other, using survey data collected from interviews with a sample of residents of a western Canadian city. The hypotheses that the perception of increased crime and the fear of crime would be inversely related to neighborhood cohesion and social activity were not supported. But as hypothesized, the fear of crime was negatively related to affect for the community. And the prediction that the experience of actual victimization would not affect these hypothesized relationships was supported. When various social and residential variables were included with fear of crime in a multiple regression to predict community affect, low fear and older age were found to result in greater affect both for the neighborhood and the city. In addition, females and the less well-educated had more affect for the city. An exploration of possible interaction effects between fear of crime and the social and residential variables did not yield any significant results.

Main finding
Neighborhood cohesion and social activity was found to have no relationship to the perception of fear of crime. A negative relationship between fear of crime and community affect was observed. Residents who had more personal fear of crime were more likely to report dissatisfaction with their community. Fear of crime was found to have the strongest effect on satisfaction with, or affect for the community.

Description of method used in the article
This study employed a multivariate analysis on data collected from an amalgam survey conducted by the Population Research Laboratory, University of Alberta in spring of 1977 and a sample of households in Edmonton, Canada selected from the 1976 Edmonton City Telephones Street Address Directory. Demographic variables, such as sex, age, education, and income, were used in the sample. Residential correlates (home ownership, type, location, length of residence, number of children, and at home spouse) were used as controls. The researchers interviewed a total of 371 respondents. The data was collected by phone interviews where interviewers asked questions to measure the degree of neighborhood cohesion, perception of crime, social activity, and affect for the community.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Crime and Aggression Gathering/Socializing
Physical types
Geographic locations