, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 139-163
Date: 23 Dec 2009

Assessing the Spatial–Temporal Relationship Between Disorder and Violence

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Abstract

The relationship between disorder and violence has generated much debate in the field of criminology. While advocates of the broken windows thesis believe disorder is the root cause of crime, other researchers view both disorder and crime as analogous behaviors resulting from the breakdown of collective efficacy. Scholars from both sides of this debate, however, assume a long-term correlation between disorder and crime at places. This assumption has not been tested with a longitudinal dataset at a relatively small geographic unit of analysis. The current study used data collected in Seattle, Washington and utilized Group-based Trajectory Analysis and Joint Trajectory Analysis to explore the longitudinal relationship between disorder and violence. The results showed that disorder, just like crime, concentrates in a few “hot spots.” Additionally, the results showed that while the lack of disorder problems guarantees places to be violence free, having high levels of disorder predicts having violence problems only about 30% of time. As such, these findings point out the need for future theorization efforts on the disorder-violence nexus to include contextual factors which could explain this imperfect association between the two.