Community Vision: A Structural Theory of Attitudes Toward Disorder, Fear, Crime and Community Cohesion

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Stephen L. Mallory

Advisor Department

Criminal Justice


This study empirically tests Broken Windows Theory using structural equation modeling (SEM). Data from Baltimore, Maryland (N = 921), Madison, Wisconsin (N = 1,166), and Hattiesburg, Mississippi (N = 156) were used for separate analyses. It is concluded that the data do not support Broken Windows Theory. A theory of item response patterns, Community Vision, is proposed. The theory can be summarized as follows: Every individual has a cognitive map that describes very generally the quality of life in his or her community: This cognitive map will generate correlated responses to any questions regarding neighborhood conditions including measures of crime and disorder, levels of community cohesion and levels of fear. This theory was tested using SEM. It is concluded that the data support the Community Vision Theory.