2014 Best Conference Paper Award Winners:
George Galster (Wayne State University) and Erica Raleigh (Data Driven Detroit)

Award Recipients

George Galster (Wayne State University) and Erica Raleigh (Data Driven Detroit).

Award Committee Assessment

“Neighborhood disinvestment, abandonment and crime dynamics” is an excellent contribution to knowledge on urban processes. Galster and Raleigh provide a comprehensive analysis of a unique dataset, which was recently produced for Detroit on neighborhood decline, vacancies, abandonment and crime. Their rigorous and comprehensive analytical framework, based on a solid theoretical foundation, provides a critical perspective on the readily assumed notions about the relationship between abandoned buildings, crime, drugs and liquor licenses and perceived and actual neighborhood safety in Detroit.

Galster and Raleigh’s study seeks to provide a broader base to understand neighborhood effect on crime by addressing social disorganization, place attachment, informal social control and collective action and collective efficacy, among other indicators. The non-linearity of how these different indicators relate, tells a strong empirical story of the different phases of neighborhood decline and crime, and provides insights on the impacts of Detroit’s social and physical infrastructure. While Detroit is an extreme case, the non-linearity of urban decline highlights the importance of their methodological approach to a broad audience, which can enrich the conceptual and analytical approaches of those interested in urban planning, political science, geography, as well as those interested in strengthening and creatively designing quantitative research methodologies. This study encourages urban managers to reconsider how abandoned housing is managed and demolished, and what would be the “right size” for an urban area, particularly in declining cities. The committee therefore agreed that the Best Paper Award should be given to: “Neighborhood disinvestment, abandonment and crime dynamics” at the 44th Urban Affairs Association Annual
Meeting in San Antonio.

Award Committee

Chair Julia Nevarez (Kean University); Yilan Xu (University of Illinois); Frederick Douzet (Universite de Paris 8); Cathy Yang Liu (Georgia State University); Kristen Crossney (West Chester University)

Read more about the Best Conference Paper Award.