Neighborhood Watch Research StudyNeighborhood Watch Programs seem to be supported by many of the concepts centered on Social Structure Theory and Social Disorganization Theory. Within the Social Structure Theory lay the Social Disorganization Theory and Social Ecology, which both are directly related to the concepts of Neighborhood Watch Programs.
In the Social Disorganization Theory it can be seen how neighborhood watch programs are used to combat certain aspects of the theory which are linked to criminal behaviors such as social disorganization and a lack of informal social control, development of gangs and peer groups which replace existing family institutions and criminal areas that are vulnerable to crime. Over the years the social disorganization theory has evolved further into a study of Social Ecology. Social Ecology defines aspects of community deterioration, fear, and change which can all be linked to Neighborhood Watch Programs and its use in communities to prevent and control criminal behaviors and acts. Community deterioration has been directly linked to elevated crime rates in areas in which neighborhoods face poverty and disorder (Siegel 185). Community fear mixed with disorganization in neighborhoods creates an environment that individuals become afraid of being victimized and either isolates themselves from the community or simply move out of the neighborhood and the community changes. Neighborhood Watch Programs have been created to combat these issues in that they attempt to bring neighborhoods together through collective efficacy (Siegel 188).
Neighborhood Watch Programs work based on collective efficacy in that they are designed to bring community members together to reestablish or maintain control of their neighborhoods (National Sheriff's Association, 2007). Consequently, neighborhood watch programs promote a better quality of life for residents by decreasing community deterioration, fear, and change which assist with reducing crime rates.
The Social Structure Theory essentially revolves around the belief that different social and economic forces that occur in poor economic and social areas provide opportunities and enable certain members of these communities the chance to commit or act upon criminal behaviors. Sociologists Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw popularized the social disorganization theory through their work. Their work was based upon the link between specific geographical areas and neighborhoods characterized by heterogeneity of economics and ethnicity, high levels of population turnover and transience, and other physical and economic conditions. (National Sheriff's Association, 2007). Shaw and McKays concepts are used as the foundation of the Neighborhood Watch Program in that its conclusion states that crime is higher in socially disorganized areas marked by weakened informal control (residents) due to an erosion of shared norms. (National Sheriff's Association, 2007). This type of crime...