The Social Ecology of Public Space: Active Streets and Violent Crime in Urban Neighborhoods
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Type of Work30 pages
journal articles postprints
Citation of Original PublicationChristopher R. Browning and Aubrey L. Jackson, THE SOCIAL ECOLOGY OF PUBLIC SPACE: ACTIVE STREETS AND VIOLENT CRIME IN URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS, Criminology; 51(4): 1009–1043 (2013) doi:10.1111/1745-9125.12026.
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Christopher R. Browning and Aubrey L. Jackson, THE SOCIAL ECOLOGY OF PUBLIC SPACE: ACTIVE STREETS AND VIOLENT CRIME IN URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS, Criminology; 51(4): 1009–1043 (2013) doi:10.1111/1745-9125.12026., which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9125.12026. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Drawing on one element of the discussion by Jacobs (1961) of the social control benefits of “eyes on the street,” this article explores the link between the prevalence of active streets and violence in urban neighborhoods. Three distinct data sources from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods are merged to explore the functional form and potential contingency of the active streets–violence relationship: 1) video data capturing the presence of people on neighborhood streets; 2) longitudinal data on adolescents (11 to 16 years of age) and their self‐reports of witnessing severe violence; and (3) community survey data on neighborhood social organizational characteristics. The results from multilevel models indicate that the proportion of neighborhood streets with adults present exhibits a nonlinear association with exposure to severe violence. At low prevalence, the increasing prevalence of active streets is positively associated with violence exposure. Beyond a threshold, however, increases in the prevalence of active streets serve to reduce the likelihood of violence exposure. The analyses offer no evidence that the curvilinear association between active streets and violence varies by levels of collective efficacy, and only limited evidence that it varies by anonymity. Analyses of data on homicide and violent victimization corroborate these findings.