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Sociology Colloquia March 1, John Hipp: Living in your own "Private Idaho": Egohoods as a New Measure of Neighborhood

Defining "neighborhoods" is a bedeviling challenge faced by all studies of neighborhood effects and ecological models of social processes. Although scholars frequently lament the inadequacies of the various existing definitions of "neighborhood", we argue that previous strategies relying on non-overlapping boundaries such as block groups and tracts are fundamentally flawed. The approach taken here instead builds on insights of the mental mapping literature, the social networks literature, the daily activities pattern literature, and the travel to crime literature to propose a new definition of neighborhoods: egohoods. These egohoods are conceptualized as waves washing across the surface of cities, as opposed to independent units with non-overlapping boundaries. This approach is illustrated using crime data from seven cities, and the results show that measures aggregated to our egohoods explain about twice as much of the variation in crime across the social environment than do models with measures aggregated to block groups or tracts. Results also suggest that measuring inequality in egohoods provides dramatically stronger effects on crime rates than when using the non-overlapping boundary approach, highlighting the important new insights that can be obtained by utilizing our egohood approach.

Time and place: TBA

Brief bio:
John R. Hipp is an Associate Professor in the departments of Criminology, Law and Society, and Sociology, at the University of California Irvine.  His research interests focus on how neighborhoods change over time, how that change both affects and is affected by neighborhood crime, and the role networks and institutions play in that change.  He approaches these questions using quantitative methods as well as social network analysis.  He has published substantive work in such journals as American Sociological Review, Criminology, American Journal of Public Health, Social Forces, Social Problems, Social Networks, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Mobilization, Health & Place, City & Community, Crime & Delinquency, Urban Studies and Journal of Urban Affairs.  He has published methodological work in such journals as Sociological Methodology, Psychological Methods, and Structural Equation Modeling.