Maguire, E.R., Armstrong, T., and Johnson, D. (2017). The structure of citizen perceptions of crime and disorder: New evidence from a developing nation. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 33(4), 675–699.


Objectives This study builds on existing research from U.S. cities on the construct and discriminant validity of perceptual measures of crime and disorder. It seeks to determine whether citizens distinguish between crime and disorder.

Methods This study draws on quantitative and qualitative data from a high-crime community in Trinidad and Tobago, a small-island developing nation in the eastern Caribbean. Analysis of the quantitative data relies on exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis methods designed for use with categorical observed variables and continuous latent variables.

Results In contrast to previous research, we find that citizens do distinguish between physical disorder and general crime, but there is a perceptual overlap for some drug-related offenses and types of social disorder.

Conclusions This study raises questions about the external validity of research on the relationship between perceptions of crime and disorder conducted in the U.S, and contributes to ongoing discussions and debates about the meaning of disorder. The findings suggest the need for theory and research to explain how context shapes not only the magnitudes of these perceptions, but also their structures. The results also demonstrate the benefits of mixed-methods research approaches in this area of study.

Year: 2017
Language: English
Type: Journal article
Topic: Measurement, Caribbean criminology
Methodologies: Measurement model