Pulling us apart? The association between fear of crime and social cohesion in South Africa

  • Benjamin J. Roberts Human Sciences Research Council
  • Steven L. Gordon Human Sciences Research Council
Keywords: fear of crime, social cohesion, survey, South Africa


Fear of crime, like crime itself, is thought to be a factor that constrains efforts by government and non-state actors at promoting socially cohesive communities and a caring society. As concern  over South Africa's social fabric have mounted, increasing policy attention has been directed at perceptions of safety and nation-building. In this study, we use nationally representative survey data to examine recent theoretical models on the link between fear of crime and social cohesion within communities. The results do not offer strong support for the hypothesis that higher fear of crime is associated with lower levels of social trust, neighbouthood ties and civic cohesion, although fear does have a moderate, adverse influence on attitudes towards law enforcement.

Author Biographies

Benjamin J. Roberts, Human Sciences Research Council

Coordinator of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) and Senior Research Manager, Democracy, Governance & Service Delivery (DGSD)research programme

Steven L. Gordon, Human Sciences Research Council
Doctoral researcher, Democracy, Governance & Service Delivery ( DGSD ) research programme
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