You are here: Home / News / Ryken Grattet's paper, "The Urban Ecology of Bias Crime: A Study of Disorganized and Defended Neighborhoods" published in the February issue of Social Problems

Ryken Grattet's paper, "The Urban Ecology of Bias Crime: A Study of Disorganized and Defended Neighborhoods" published in the February issue of Social Problems

Ryken's article examines the neighborhood characteristics that affect bias crime and compares bias crime to other kinds of criminal offending.

Two frequently asserted arguments are tested. The first argument is that bias crime is like other criminal offenses in that it is more likely to occur in communities with high levels of social disorganization. The second argument is that bias crime is unique in that it occurs as a defense against neighborhood in-migration of ethnic “others”—the so-called “defended neighborhoods” argument. Findings show that accounting for the spatial distribution of bias crime requires both perspectives. Bias crime, like robbery, assault, and vandalism, is more likely to occur in neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantage and residential turnover, two of the three factors identified in social disorganization research. However, unlike other kinds of crime, holding constant attributes of disorganization, the effect of nonwhite in-migration on bias crime is greater in neighborhoods with a high percentage of white residents than communities with a low percentage of white residents. This confirms the central empirical implication of the defended neighborhoods perspective. Additional analyses show that these effects hold in analyses of specifically anti-black bias crimes and violent bias crimes. The conclusion suggests that research on social problems like bias crime should balance the emphasis on the unique features of the problem with attention to the common generative processes that the problem shares with a wider set of behaviors and outcomes.

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