Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Wesley M. Shrum Jr


This dissertation examines the problem of order through an analysis of individual practices of security. Because security is a multi-dimensional issue, no unified perspective currently exists to explain security practices. Based on my analysis of data from a detailed survey of 137 residents of a Baton Rouge neighborhood, I argue that there are three main dimensions of security and each has a unique set of determinants, since individuals are contextually situated in their households, neighborhoods, and municipalities. This dissertation examines variables related to psychological, stratification, social network, and rational choice perspectives. The analysis demonstrates that although factors suggested by each of these perspectives contribute to an explanation of security, no one factor explains security-related behaviors at all levels. I argue that citizens vary in the types of actions they take to provide security because of differential levels of trust in different agents to provide necessary services. Some trust their own abilities to provide security for themselves, some trust neighborhood programs, and some trust the government to provide security. Because trust is a key issue in understanding security, I propose that future research on security acknowledge the importance of trust. I suggest that part of the failure of the rational choice perspective to present a unified explanation of security is that it does not properly understand self interest. The rational choice perspective should acknowledge the relationship between trust and security, and trust and order. Fear of crime is significantly related to individuals' personal avoidance measures. Association with neighbors is related to taking fewer protective measures in and around the home. Knowledge of others in the neighborhood has an inverse relationship with the number of protective measures taken. I offer no explanation of support for contributions to the community crime-prevention organization. Trust in local government, educational attainment, and tax liability explains support for the tax millages.