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Part 5

Does the “broken window” theory work? How incivilities affect sense of insecurity in Italian university students

Does the “broken window” theory work? How incivilities affect sense of insecurity in Italian university students

Luca Scacchi, Mariagrazia Monaci, Ennio Cavedon
Università della Valle d’Aosta (Italy). l.scacchi@univda.it

Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine the influence of incivilities on sense of insecurity in Italy. The “broken window” thesis claims that by reducing signs of disorder, police can make lasting reductions in crime (Wilson & Kelling, 1982). Other studies argue that changes in level of physical decay and social disorder do not lead decreased crime rates (Taylor, 2001). However, all these studies, as well as several others, link disorder to insecurity: people who perceive incivilities more are more fearful (Lagrange et al., 1992; Santinello et al., 1997). Moreover, past works have stressed the multidimensional constructs underlying psychological reactions to crime: personal fear of crime, social concern of crime, and perceived risk of crime have different predictors (Freudenberg, 1971; Van der Wuff, 1986; Amerio & Roccato, 2005).

The present study examined the correlates of distinct dimensions of insecurity in a sample of 226 university students in two different social contexts (123 in a mountain region not perceived as insecure by its inhabitants and 103 in a metropolitan city in Northern Italy). A self-report questionnaire was devised whose main variables were: victimization; personal well-being (Masse et al., 1998), perceived social support (Zimet et al., 1988), subtle and blatant prejudice (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995), perception of social and physical incivilities, perception of territorial markers, and place identity (Bonaiuto, Bilotta, & Fornaia, 2004).
The first analyses confirm distinct constructs underlying insecurity. Main results reveal significant relationships between fear of crime and social (but not physical) incivilities, gender, depression and negative place identity, whereas concern of crime is linked to blatant prejudice, social support and territorial markers. Personal risk of crime is influenced by victimization and gender. Further analyses comparing the two different social contexts will be presented.

Key words: fear fo crime, incivility, markers


Author

Luca Scacchi, Mariagrazia Monaci, Ennio Cavedon

Luca Scacchi, Mariagrazia Monaci, Ennio Cavedon
Università della Valle d’Aosta (Italy). l.scacchi@univda.it


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Keywords: fear fo crime, incivility, markers, gjcpp, 2nd ICCP