, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 401-420

Neighborhood Disorder, Fear, and Mistrust: The Buffering Role of Social Ties with Neighbors

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This paper proposes that individuals who report that they live in neighborhoods characterized by disorder—by crime, vandalism, graffiti, danger, noise, dirt, and drugs—have high levels of fear and mistrust. It further proposes that an individual's alliances and connections with neighbors can buffer the negative effects of living in a neighborhood characterized by disorder on fear and mistrust. Results from a representative sample of 2482 Illinois residents collected by telephone in 1995 support the propositions. Living in a neighborhood with a lot of perceived disorder significantly affects mistrust and the fear of victimization, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics. Perceived neighborhood disorder and social ties significantly interact: informal social ties with neighbors reduce the fear- and mistrust-producing effects of disorder. However, formal participation in neighborhood organizations shows little buffering effect.