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Collective Efficacy and Social Cohesion

Collective Efficacy refers to the ability of the residents of a neighborhood to come together to meet shared goals. Neighborhoods with high levels of collective efficacy can exercise informal social control to address the problems of crime and disorder within the community.

Social cohesion refers to the sense of belonging and togetherness felt by residents towards their neighborhood. While social cohesion is a necessary component of collective efficacy, it can have its own impact on the well-being of a neighborhood. 


A Network of Social Relationships

Both collective efficacy and social cohesion depend on the network of informal ties between residents. These ties form from continued interactions between residents and take time to develop. Neighborhoods in turmoil due to high residential turnover often lack the strong and dense ties needed for collective efficacy to develop. The rapid population displacement seen during the foreclosure crisis of 2008 can decimate these ties and undermine collective efficacy.

Collective Efficacy and Public Safety

Research has consistently demonstrated that collective efficacy and public safety are strongly connected. Neighborhoods with high collective efficacy experience lower rates of violent crime and better outcomes for children living in these neighborhoods. Neighborhoods with high collective efficacy are also able to address signs of disorder, such as refuse, ill-kept properties, property damage, graffiti, public drug use and drunkenness, and open air drug sales.


Building Collective Efficacy and Social Cohesion

In neighborhoods where collective efficacy and social cohesion are low, a coordinated effort is necessary to rebuild them. Establishing the social bonds needed for collective efficacy and social cohesion takes time, so a coordinated and consistent effort is needed. At JSS, we believe that the best strategy involves bringing residents, neighborhood business owners, neighborhood organizations, public services, and non-profit organizations together for a sustained effort at reinvigorating a neighborhood.

Local Neighborhood Organizations

When building collective efficacy and social cohesion within a neighborhood, local neighborhood organizations offer a key bridge to engage residents. These organizations connect neighborhood residents to the larger community and can be a key resource for recruitment and outreach. These organizations also possess a wealth of information about the challenges confronting the day-to-day life of neighborhood residents.

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