Generating action and responding to local issues: Collective efficacy in context

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that communities can be collectively efficacious without dense networks and kith and kinship relations. Yet few studies examine how collective efficacy is generated and sustained in the absence of close social ties. Using in-depth interviews with local residents and key stakeholders in two collectively efficacious suburbs in Brisbane, Australia, this study explores the role of social ties and networks in shaping residents' sense of active engagement and perceptions of community capacity. Results suggest that strong social bonds among residents are not necessary for the development of social cohesion and informal social control. Instead, collective representations or symbols of 'community' provide residents with a sense of social cohesion, trust and a perceived willingness of others to respond to problems of crime and disorder. Yet there is limited evidence that these collectively efficacious communities comprise actively engaged residents. In both communities, participants report a strong reliance on key institutions and organisations to manage and respond to a variety of problems, from neighbourhood nuisances to crime and disorder. These findings suggest a more a nuanced understanding of collective efficacy theory is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-443
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective efficacy
  • Community
  • Crime
  • Crime prevention
  • Social networks

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