Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-19-2016


Forthun, Benjamin J. 2016. "Fear and Loitering in Los Angeles: Contextualizing Fear in the Efficacy Framework" MA Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln NE.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University o Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Tara D. Warner. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Benjamin J. Forthun


Using individual-level survey, and neighborhood-level contextual and social observation data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A. FANS), I extend social disorganization theory by examining the role of fear in understanding the link between neighborhood structure, collective efficacy, and crime. Results indicate that the association between social cohesion and informal control is weakened in neighborhoods with high levels of resident fear. Fear is significantly associated with decreased community efficacy, and it both mediates and moderates the effect of neighborhood disadvantage and disorder on efficacy. Further, the utility of collective efficacy to protect against the effects of adverse neighborhood conditions on crime is compromised in fearful communities. When neighborhood fear is considered, neither collective efficacy nor neighborhood concentrated disadvantage are associated with neighborhood robbery victimization. Fear, however, remains one of the primary correlates of neighborhood robbery victimization. These findings suggest that future research should incorporate resident fear in order to better understand the character and context of neighborhood organization. Without considering neighborhood-level fear, research ignores a key mechanism contributing to both community efficacy and the utility of collective efficacy to ameliorate the damaging effects of adverse neighborhood conditions.

Advisor: Tara D. Warner.

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