Where concerned citizens perceive police as more responsive to troublesome teen groups: Theoretical implications for political economy, incivilities and policing

Ralph B. Taylor, Christopher E. Kelly, Christopher Salvatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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The current investigation extends previous work on citizens' perceptions of police performance. It examines origins of between-community differences in concerned citizens' judgements that police are responding sufficiently to a local social problem. The problem is local unsupervised teen groups, a key indicator for both the revised systemic social disorganisation perspective and the incivilities thesis. Four theoretical perspectives predict ecological determinants of these shared judgements. Less perceived police responsiveness is anticipated in: lower socio- economic status (SES) police districts by both a political economy and a stratified incivilities perspective; more predominantly minority police districts by a racialised justice perspective; and in higher crime police districts by a proposed extension of Klinger's ecology of policing model. The current work improves upon earlier conflicting work in this area in several ways; most importantly it distinguishes between perceived need for police and perceived police responsiveness. Survey, census and crime data from Philadelphia were used. Results showed residents concerned about this problem and living in lower SES police districts or higher violent crime police districts judged police as less responsive. Results supported political economy and stratified incivilities models and to a lesser extent the proposed extension of Klinger's ecology of policing perspective. Implications for broader understandings of community variation in citizens' reactions to police, and for national programmes to improve police responsiveness, were noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-171
Number of pages29
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010



  • Ecology
  • Incivilities
  • Policing
  • Stratification

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