Explaining Crime in Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Communities

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Traditional urban theories of community crime development increasingly are being adapted and evaluated for their relevance to the crime problems of smaller and less urban settings. Most notable of these have been social disorganization theory and civic community theory. This paper compares these two major theoretical frameworks for explaining community-level variations in crime, using county-level data on crime rates merged with data on the economic, geographic, population, and ecological features of counties in the U.S. The study finds that both traditional social disorganization and civic community theories are good predictors of some, but not all, types of crime, in the largest metropolitan areas. However, their predictive power declines substantially when applied to the most rural communities.



rural crime, social disorganization theory, civic community theory, violent crime, property crime, drug arrests, juvenile arrests


International Journal of Rural Criminology, v1, n2 (November, 2012), p. 153-183