The protective effect of community organization on distress in disadvantaged neighborhoods: considering the Latino experience in Chicago
Psychological distress occurs at disproportionate rates among minority groups and individuals with lower socioeconomic status. This dissertation focuses on the relationship between living in a disadvantaged neighborhood and distress among Latinos, the formal and informal organizations that mediate the direct and indirect relationship between disadvantage and distress in this population, and the differences of social stress processes based on aspects of Latino social status, linguistic acculturation status, and the percentage of residents in the neighborhood that identify as Latino. This dissertation focuses its investigation on Latinos living in Chicago, specifically asking: In a metropolitan city, can the presence of formal and informal community organizations protect Latinos living in disadvantage neighborhoods from experiencing psychological distress? The findings demonstrate an indirect association between disadvantage and distress though objective disorganization and perception of disorganization. Both the density of community centers and block watch had an indirect protective effect, mediating the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and distress, but did not decrease the indirect effect of disadvantage on distress through objective or perceptions of disorganization. The results of this dissertation suggest that changes to a neighborhood's environment may decrease population rates of distress in disadvantaged neighborhoods.