Moving Social Disorder Around Which Corner? A Case Study of Spatial Displacement and Diffusion of Benefits

Thumbnail Image


Publication or External Link






Prior research seeking to understand the spatial displacement of crime and diffusion of intervention benefits has suggested that place-based opportunities - levels and types of guardianship, offenders, and targets - explain spatial intervention effects to places proximate to a targeted intervention area. However, there has been no systematic test of this relationship. This dissertation uses observational and interview data to examine the relationship, in two street-level markets, between place-based opportunities and spatial displacement and diffusion of social disorder. The street segment is the unit of analysis for this study, since research shows crime clusters at this level and it is a unit small enough to accurately represent the context for street-level crime opportunities.

The study begins by investigating if catchment area (an area proximate to an intervention area) segments with similar opportunities to the target area segments differentially experienced parallel intervention effects as compared to segments with dissimilar opportunity factors. These analyses resulted in null findings. The second set of analyses examined if place-based opportunities predicted the segments which fall into a high diffusion group or a displacement group, as compared to a low/moderate group. These analyses resulted in primarily null findings, except for the measures of public flow and the average level of place manager responsibility which positively predicted the segments in the high diffusion group, as compared to the low/moderate diffusion group. A third set of analyses was also performed where the outcome measure was the odds of the occurrence of a social disorder incident in a measured situation period in the segment during the intervention. These analyses revealed that the situations within segments which had a greater number of possible targets and offenders with a lack of guardianship were more likely to experience incidents of social disorder, reinforcing past findings about the relationship between social disorder and opportunities at place. Place-based opportunity factors are likely important factors in understanding parallel spatial intervention effects, but the null findings suggest additional research is needed to better understand these effects.