Retaliatory Conflict Among Drug Sellers: Crime as a Self-Perpetruating Process

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

Various research streams within criminology have focused on exploring the developmental nature of individual criminal behavior. The usual direction of such research has been to examine the influence of external factors, both formal (e.g., law enforcement activity) and informal (e.g., marriage) on decisions to continue or desist involvement in crime. What has been less examined is the effect of criminality itself on these processes. That is, involvement in a given criminal act may in itself serve to enhance or diminish likelihood of future criminal involvement. For example, conflict which results in violence is often retaliatory in nature, that is, it serves as punishment in response to previous criminal activity, whether violent or otherwise. This issue will be examined by analyzing conflict events related by a small group of drug sellers in New York City. The analysis will explore whether there are systematic differences in the types of conflicts that either result in or are likely to result in retaliatory violence versus those that do not. The findings of this study should help to illuminate the self-perpetuating nature of criminal activity.

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Updated 05/20/2006