Sweet mothers and gangbangers: Managing crime in a black middle-class neighborhood

Mary E Pattillo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

230 Scopus citations

Abstract

Black middle-class neighborhoods have higher internal poverty rates and are closer to high-poverty and high-crime areas than white middle-class neighborhoods, which presents particular challenges to neighborhood social organization. This study uses ethnographic data from a black middle-class neighborhood in Chicago to explore how residents manage this ecological context. I find that dense social networks fostered by residential stability facilitate the informal supervision of neighborhood youth and enhance the activities of formal organizations and institutions. Nevertheless, the incorporation of gang members and drug dealers into the networks of law-abiding kin and neighbors thwarts efforts to completely rid the neighborhood of its criminal element. The conflicting effects of dense networks challenge traditional social organization theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-774
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Forces
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1998

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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