Assessing the Social Bonds of Elderly Neighbors: The Roles of Length of Residence, Crime Victimization, and Perceived Disorder

Hunter College-CUNY, USA
Sociological Inquiry (Impact Factor: 0.79). 10/2003; 73(4):490 - 510. DOI: 10.1111/1475-682X.00068

ABSTRACT Starting from the rationale that elderly urban residents tend to be “neighborhood-bound,” this study examines the relationship between age or aging and local social bonds (friendship, social cohesion and trust, informal social control, and participation in local organizations). Specifically, is the level of local bonding among elderly urban residents (age 65 and over) greater than that of the younger cohorts (17–35, 34–49, and 50–64)? Additionally, two specific hypotheses are constructed to examine the determinants of local social bonds among elderly urban residents: the systemic approach, regarding length of residence; and the social-disorganization approach, regarding crime victimization and perceived disorder. Using Chicago data collected in 1995, the analysis found a substantial difference between the elderly cohort and each of the younger cohorts in only the friendship category of local social bonds. The other results show that in a sample of elderly urban residents, length of residence is the only significant, positive factor in local friendship, and that the two disorder predictors, physical and social, play a substantial role in weakening two types of local social bonds, social cohesion and trust and informal social control.

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