Zhang, Lening, Steven F. Messner*, and Sheldon Zhang



By drawing on the two streams of Western literature on “neighborhood effects” and perceptions of neighborhood disorder adapted to the distinctive organizational infrastructure of neighborhoods in contemporary urban China, we examine the contextual effects of different forms of neighborhood social control (i.e., collective efficacy, semipublic control, public control, and market-based control) on different types of perceived disorder (i.e., criminal activity, social disorder, physical disorder, and total disorder) across neighborhoods. The analyses are based on data collected in the year 2013 from a survey of approximately 2,500 households in 50 neighborhoods across the city of Tianjin. Collective efficacy as a form of informal control has a significant effect only for perceived social disorder. Public control as measured by the activities of neighborhood police stations has a significant contextual effect on all forms of perceived disorder, whereas the role of market-based control as represented by contracted community services is limited to perceived physical disorder. Finally, semipublic control as measured by the activities of neighborhood committees significantly affects all forms of perceived disorder, but the direction of the effect is positive. We interpret this positive effect with reference to the complex processes surrounding the “translation” of neighborhood disorderly conditions into perceptions of disorder.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff