Ethnic relations, crime and disorder in urban neighbourhoods: moderating role of neighbourhood type in Penang, Malaysia

  • Massoomeh Hedayati MarzbaliEmail author
  • Aldrin Abdullah
  • Joshua Ignatius
  • Mohammad Javad Maghsoodi Tilaki
Original Article


This article examines the role of efficacy and ethnic relations in alleviating victimisation and perceived disorders and whether these relationships vary between homogeneous and heterogeneous neighbourhoods. In existing practice, one of the existing modelling limitation is when the intervening effects of social ties and informal control are being tested as separate mediators without the consideration of their possible co-variation. A sample of 417 residents across two neighbourhoods in Penang, Malaysia was analysed via structural equation modelling using multiple mediators. The findings reveal significant negative effects of ethnic relations, social ties and informal control on victimisation, both directly and indirectly. Informal control does not mediate the relationship between social ties and victimisation, and this does not differ between neighbourhoods. Furthermore, informal control helps to reduce perceived disorder in homogeneous neighbourhoods but not in heterogeneous neighbourhoods. Only ethnic relations influence victimisation, even though one would expect both to represent the same issue about the cohesiveness of residents. This finding shows that perception of residents’ cohesion is not a good indicator of crime experiences, which can be better explained by their perception of the relationships with other ethnic groups.


Crime Disorder Ethnic relation Informal control Neighbourhood Structural equation modelling 



The authors would like to thank Universiti Sains Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) Malaysia for financially supporting this Research under Trans-disciplinary Research Grant Scheme (TRGS, NO. 203/PPBGN/67610001).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massoomeh Hedayati Marzbali
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aldrin Abdullah
    • 1
  • Joshua Ignatius
    • 2
  • Mohammad Javad Maghsoodi Tilaki
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Housing, Building & PlanningUniversiti Sains MalaysiaPenangMalaysia
  2. 2.WMG, International Manufacturing CentreUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  3. 3.School of HumanitiesUniversiti Sains MalaysiaPenangMalaysia

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