Ecological theories linking community characteristics to the level of crime have rarely been tested outside the context of the United States and Western Europe. In this study we examine the effects of social cohesion and neighborhood disorder on crime using data from a survey of neighborhoods in Brazil. We find that lower-income neighborhoods, including irregular settlements known as favelas, have higher levels of social cohesion. Contrary to the results of research in U.S. urban areas, we find that greater cohesion among neighborhood residents is not significantly associated with lower levels of crime, and is in fact associated with a higher perceived risk of victimization. By contrast, neighborhood social and physical disorder increases violent victimization, but does not affect residents' perceived risk of being victimized. We argue that the effect of social cohesion on risk perception is explained by the greater spread of information regarding crimes occurring in more cohesive neighborhoods where residents interact more frequently with each other.


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pp. 1725-1753
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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