Citizen Security Policy in El Salvador: Examining Critical Assumptions

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 9, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

A primary challenge in El Salvador is chronic violence and a prevailing sense of insecurity. “Citizen security” policies assume that there are differences in social organization or disorganization that help explain variations in violence and insecurity at the sub-national level. We seek to examine that association in El Salvador. We draw on quantitative survey data from El Salvador to evaluate this critical assumption for the first time. We find that there is little or no difference in the level of social organization between municipalities no matter the experienced level of violence (homicide rate). There is some difference in perceived violence (sense of security). However, no associations are as strong as expected. Based on these results, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers would be well served to scrutinize crime prevention prescriptions based on social disorganization theory in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America.

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