Assessing Perceptions of Efectiveness for a Tird Sector: A Study of Organized Neighborhood Associations and Community Clubs and the People Tey Serve.

Author:Coats, Jonathan

Assessing Perceptions of Effectiveness for a Third Sector: A Study of Organized Neighborhood Associations and Community Clubs and the People They Serve

Everyone wants to feel safe in their own neighborhood. The path of that safe feeling can be different depending on the neighborhood as a community's security problems can be solved in a variety of ways. Individuals and small groups of neighbors can informally address concerns within their neighborhood. Individuals can take safety precautions such as buying a weapon, adding locks to their home, or--in extreme situations--withdrawing from community life. Small grouping of neighbors can informally agree to watch out for each other's property. Beyond actions taken by residents, governmental and police agencies can help by taking formal measures, by passing laws, and changing policing tactics to address problems. Organizations can offer monetary support or assistance in mobilizing communities in need. For profits organizations can create initiatives to invest in the businesses' communities. Nonprofit organizations can assist neighborhoods in interacting with government and police officials. Additionally, nonprofit organizations can aid in providing opportunities for community residents to engage with one another. Moreover, nonprofits can provide support services to help address deficiencies in a community. Nonprofit organizations, such as the Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club, neighborhood or homeowner associations, and the YMCA require individuals to voluntarily participate to further their initiatives.

Previous studies on voluntary associations center on their quantitative effectiveness in implementing a specific policy, program, or initiative. However, it is important to understand how local neighborhood conditions influence residents' perceptions of how effective organized neighborhood associations and community clubs/organizations (ONACC) are; this is imperative because the success of community-based efforts is predicated on their capacity to mobilize the individuals in a community to shift broader policies and procedures. (1) If individuals believe that a problem-solving approach is not effective or is only marginally effective, then it stands to reasons that they will not participate or use that method. When residents find one or more approaches highly effective, this may indicate more enthusiastic resolve to pursue those methods, instead of others. (2) This study uses multilevel models built from 1,565 survey respondents in Seattle to examine whether the existence of individual factors, such as personal fear, social integration, prior participation in block activities and perceived neighborhood characteristics, such as disorder, trust, and informal social control influence perception of ONACC being effective at solving major problems in the respondents' neighborhood.

ONACC confront many of the root causes of disorder, such as problems in the social, physical, and economic environment of the neighborhood, and thus may represent the most promising approach to urban stability. (3) These economic or social problems are often coupled with the overall neighborhood conditions of weak neighboring and social ties, lack of participation and involvement, and low informal control. (4) ONACC may provide additional adult educational services, a location for youth to go instead of "hanging out" on the street corner, help acquiring additional protective services, and individuals a safe place to engage in neighboring activities. Of these concerns that ONACC address, a lengthy body of literature examines the roles played by neighborhood structural conditions, (5) such as social integration and social control, (6) harmful conditions, including disorder and personal fear, (7) and other social problems, such as lack of resources. (8)

Social ties and engaging in neighborly behaviors are extremely important in developing trust and shared norms among neighbors, developing a sense of community, exchanging important information, and establishing informal social control. (9) This trust may facilitate enthusiasm in problem-solving measures that are deemed less intrusive. Sampson and colleagues argue that neighborhood collectiveness includes a working trust among residents, as well as the willingness to intervene to achieve social control. (10) This collectiveness enhances the ability of residents to meet common goals and preserve shared social values. (11) When residents meet with each other and interact, they form social ties or increase their sense of familiarity with one another. Usually more familiarity assists in creating prosocial norms, however, Sampson finds that improved familiarity can increase awareness of negative physical and social conditions, which may result in fear of crime or retaliation and reduces citizen involvement in civic and local activities. (12) Although neighborhoods that have adequate level of functioning and cohesiveness may not require additional resources and may also be primed to implement ONACC missions, (13) this fact should not preclude the examination of the circumstances that influence residents' perception of ONACC effectiveness.

The Current Study

As discussed above, there is limited investigation into the perceived effectiveness of ONACC. This study aims to address this gap in the literature, by simultaneously examining whether individual and perceived neighborhood factors are associated with perceptions of high efficacy for ONACC. Research questions were formulated, include the following: Do increases in individual interactions influence the perceptions of efficacy for ONACC? Does personal fear influence perceptions of ONACC as highly effective at solving major problems in the neighborhood? Does respondents' participation in Seattle Police Department or other block activity influence perceptions that ONACC are highly effective? Do perceptions of neighborhood trust influence perceptions of ONACC effectiveness? Do increases in disorder impact respondents' perceptions of ONACC, as highly effective at solving major problems? Do perceptions of informal social control impact respondents' perceptions of ONACC efficacy? This study's null hypothesis states that controlling for the other variables of analysis, the predictor variables have no statistically significant effect on the perception that ONACC are highly effective at solving major problems in the respondent's neighborhood. Methodology

This research examined models for the perceived high efficacy of ONACC based on individual-level constructs of previously researched neighborhood-level factors. To understand ONACC, this study analyzed secondary data from the...

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