Fear in the Neighborhoods: An Investigation of the Impact of Crime

Dan A. Lewis, Michael G. Maxfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Residents in four Chicago neighborhoods were surveyed to determine the rela tionship between fear of crime and official crime rates. Several anomalies were found. Citizens' perceptions of dangerous areas in their neighborhoods match, for the most part, official records of crimes committed there. However, assessments of neighborhoods' specific crime problems and personal risks do not consistently cor respond with official statistics. The authors argue that citizens' perceptions of crime are shaped not so much by the neighborhood conditions reflected in the crime statistics, but rather by the level of incivility in their communities. Indicators of incivility are conditions, more frequently confronted, indicating that community social control is weak. These include abandoned buildings, vandalism, drug use and loitering teenagers. The authors demonstrate the correspondence between levels of fear and concern about incivility. They suggest that fear of crime is trig gered by a broad range of neighborhood conditions, and argue that attempts to understand and control that fear should look beyond serious crime incidents as the sole source of the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-189
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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