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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/1310

Title: Livability, insecurity, social capital and trust in local institutions
Authors: ACKAERT, Johan
VAN CRAEN, Maarten
Issue Date: 2006
Citation: XVI ISA World Congress of Sociology 23-29 July 2006., Durban (South-Africa).
Abstract: The emerge of extreme right-wing parties in several European countries is often associated with growing feelings of insecurity. In the traditional extreme right wing discourse, the presence of large numbers of migrants are the main source of different types of blue collar criminality and by consequence the level of feelings of insecurity.. This paper firstly points out that victimisation explains only up to a certain level these feelings of insecurity. These feelings should be interpreted as the result of a complex set of factors. In addition to the degree of victimisation, feelings of insecurity are influenced by the personal evaluation of the performance of the police services; demographic background variables, SES, the perception of liveability of city quarters, ethnocentric attitudes and the access to social capital resources. Secondly, this paper relates the trust in public institutions (justice, police, local and regional government) by the previous mentioned variables (insecurity, victimisation, perception of liveability and social capital). People who demonstrate a lack of trust in those institutions complain about insecurity, the quality of the neighbourhood and the liveability of the city quarters they are living in, are mainly negative oriented towards the presence of allochtonous citizens and relatively lower educated. Concluding, working on restoring trust in public institutions is not only consisted out of investing in police forces but also means improving the quality of local government (in terms of responsivity), the implementation of an adapted social and education policy and the mobilization of all forms of social capital. Thirdly, by further research on the origins of social capital, our attention has been caught by the fact that its distribution is (partly) based on SES grounds. Projects in order to improve the amount of social capital at the local level can contribute in public trust but should take social unequality into account. Finally, this paper also examines the distribution of social capital on ethnical base. We discovered a large amount of social capital (and trust in public institutions) among people with allochtonous roots. The amount is however not based on memberships in different organizations but on personal contacts with each other in city quarters. The data for this paper is provided from surveys in municipalities in the Limburg province of Belgium. This province is characterized by a high unemployment rate (due to the closing of the coal mines nearly two decades ago) and the large presence of people with Moroccan and Turkish origins. The first wave of (interview) surveys was organized in 2003-2004 and resulted in a database of + respondents. The second one was organized in the first 9 months of 2005 among 950 inhabitants of the city of Hasselt (the main city of Limburg).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/1310
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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