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Study: Community organization can reduce, negate impact of alcohol outlets on neighborhood violence
Date:8/21/2011

The density of businesses that sell alcohol in a community has been tied to local levels of violence, but new research has found that the influence depends on the nature of the community. More stable communities can see little to no influence but more disorganized communities are not so fortunate.

Communities with greater levels of disorganization, marked by higher percentages of people living in poverty and in women-headed households with children and more renters, were hit the hardest by the presence of the liquor establishments.

"Common values and stronger social cohesion found in more organized communities usually results in a greater ability to regulate the behavior of local retailers and those who patronize the local alcohol outlets," said William Alex Pridemore, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University Bloomington. "These communities are more likely to have greater social capital, effective informal surveillance, and even friends who work at city hall. They're more likely to get the attention of police or authorities who license liquor establishments."

Pridemore will discuss his findings on Monday during the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The study results have policy implications. Changing local and state alcohol policies can be daunting because of its complex political and commercial context but Pridemore said changing alcohol policy, such as restricting the number of outlets that can operate in disorganized neighborhoods, might be easier to achieve than changing neighborhood characteristics like poverty or social disorganization. Citywide policies that establish density thresholds for businesses that sell alcohol might not be necessary, he said, but instead such policies could be targeted to protect the most fragile neighborhoods.

The co-author of the study is Tony Grubesic, associate professor in the College of Information Science and Technol
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Contact: William Pridemore
wpridemo@indiana.edu
812-856-2220
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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