The Seattle Neighborhoods and Crime Project (SNCP) is a large scale study of crime and violence in Seattle neighborhoods funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Consortium on Violence Research.  The project examines the intersection of race, neighborhood social organization, and crime and violence in the city of Seattle.  Building on recent developments in sociological theories of racial heterogeneity and inequality, neighborhood social capital and collective efficacy, and neighborhood codes of violence, it develops an integrated model of neighborhood rates of crime and violence.  The city of Seattle provides an important site because of its location in the Pacific Northwest, its unique history of commerce, its patterns of ethnic immigration and residential segregation, its innovative policing programs, and its historical trends of crime and violence.  For example, the comparatively low levels of residential segregation allow researchers to disentangle the effects of racial composition from those of neighborhood poverty.  The project has completed a telephone survey of over 5,000 residents located in each of Seattle’s 123 census tracts.  The survey interview elicited respondents’ assessments of their own demographic characteristics, and their neighborhood levels of social capital, collective efficacy, views of violence, fear of crime, routine activities, and crime victimization.  These interview data are being augmented with mail-back questionnaires from residents who did not participate in the telephone survey and from a random sample of residents who lack land-line phones or otherwise are not listed in the telephone directory.  The survey data are being merged with demographic data on neighborhoods (census tracts) from the U.S. Census Bureau, rates of violence and crime from the Seattle Police Department, and observational data on neighborhood disorder collected by trained observers.  Finally, the investigators are conducting focus group interviews with young adults to explore the subtle, nuanced operations of neighborhood informal social control, local meanings of crime and violence, nature and extent of codes of violence operating in schools and streets, the dynamics of violent and criminal victimizations, and the role of race, immigrant status, and ethnicity in interpersonal relations. 

These data are being used to address six principle questions:

·        Does community social capital and collective efficacy operate differently in Seattle than in Chicago, given dramatic differences in residential segregation and structural disadvantage?


·        Can neighborhood codes of violence be measured using survey responses from residents, and if so, are they related to neighborhood violence, as predicted by theory?


·        Are neighborhood codes of violence a crucial part of the causal mechanism by which neighborhood characteristics—racial composition, disadvantage, and distrust of the criminal justice system—affect violence?


·        Do qualitative data from focus groups and qualitative interviews provide further insights into the structure and functions of codes of violence on the street and in schools?


·        Do spatial processes in collective efficacy, neighborhood codes of violence, and violent crime approximate a diffusion model across Seattle neighborhoods?


·        Is fear of crime greater in neighborhoods characterized by disadvantage, lack of social capital, and presence of codes of violence?

For additional information on the Seattle Neighborhoods and Crime Project, click on the links above.  If you have additional questions, contact the Principal Investigator:  

   University of Washington Home                                                                                 Professor Ross L. Matsueda

Department of Sociology

202 Savery Hall, Box 353340

University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195-3340



Research Team | Papers and Publications | Sampling Frame | Survey Interviews | Instrument

Focus Groups | Funding Sources | Crime Data | Census Data


Updated:  March 16, 2006