Questioning the Inevitability of Violence Among Drug Sellers: A Situational Analysis

Angela Taylor, N. D. R. I., Inc.

Past research on the social context of drug selling has shown that its every component feature, from ecological characteristics of the areas where selling occurs, to aspects of the selling situation, to certain attributes of the seller himself, creates a high potential for violent outcomes. Yet it strains credulity to assume that every conflict faced by a seller would result in violence, and in fact, disputes may be resolved without any violence at all. The current paper examines the context of both violent and non-violent conflicts among drug sellers by exploring dispute accounts related by 25 New York City dealers. With situation-based theories of violence as a back drop, the data will be analyzed using a relatively novel analytical technique: qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). Developed by Charles Ragin (1987) and based on Boolean algebra, QCA allows the isolation of the different combinations of conditions associated with specific outcomes. Thus, dispute conflicts will be treated in a historical fashion; that is, as process. The knowledge obtained through this study will be useful for refining theories of drug/violence interactions as well as those of violent situations in general.

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Updated 05/20/2006