Community Factors and Lethal Violence: Understanding the Dynamic Nexus

Kirk R. Williams, University of California, Riverside
Robert Nash Parker, University of California - Riverside
Kay K. Pih, University of California - Riverside
Elizabeth Conniff, University of California - Riverside

This paper investigates the nexus between lethal violence and community context using a `structural disadvantage' framework to elucidate the links between the nature of the community, the contexts in which particularly urban communities exist, and the role that these play in the genesis of homicide. In addition, we investigate the feedback effects of lethal violence on community opportunities and contexts, showing how lethal violence further weakens and undermines the ability of communities and individuals therein to prevent and control lethal violence. The paper first extends recent theory and research on disadvantage, then integrates the availability and consumption of alcohol into the disadvantage theoretical framework, identifies multiple dimensions of disadvantage, develops new measurement strategies for disadvantage, and specifies how the nexus between disadvantage and lethal violence varies by types of lethality, including the degree of intimacy in the relationship between victims and perpetrators, developmentally relevant age groups, gender, and race. We analyze data for the 100 largest cities in the U.S. and their suburban rings, covering three time points, 1970, 1980 and 1990. Rates of homicide at various developmental relevant age categories and victim/offender relationship categories will be examined. Results indicate the complexity of urban homicide, and the power of the disadvantaged framework.

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Updated 05/20/2006