Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Chair

Dr. W. Wesley Johnson

Committee Chair Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 2

Dr. Lisa Nored

Committee Member 2 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 3

Dr. Mary K. Evans

Committee Member 3 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Abstract

In his 2012 Presidential Address to the American Society of Criminology, Robert Sampson purported that causality can only be reached when social science researchers accept that individual actions are dependent on social context. He referred to this as contextual causality and argued that future research needed to focus on how to measure and/or reoperationalize community measures of crime.

There were three primary goals of this study. First was to provide a better understanding of victim-offender convergence in time and space (Cohen & Felson, 1979) within incidents of violent crime. In order to meet this goal, 90 city agencies’ incident and individual-level data from 2005-2009 were collected through the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The second goal of this study was to provide a parsimonious measure of the social effects on crime and victim-offender convergence Thus, the concept of resilience was used and operationalized as a measure of social characteristics within the areas in which the incidents of violent crime occurred. Lastly, the third goal of this study was to provide a measure of contextual causality (Sampson, 2013) by incorporating both individual and social-level variables to explain victim-offender convergence (Cohen & Felson, 1979). Therefore, additional data were collected from the American Community Survey, the Election Atlas, and the Online Almanac.

Using two ordinary least squares regression models, the results demonstrated that social resilience explained more variance in crime rates within the 90 city agencies than exposure, physical and social disorder, or economic resilience; however, economic resilience explained more variance in the average rate of change in crime within the 90 city agencies. Moreover, the multilevel analysis revealed that individual-level variables generally have significant effects on both the place of crime and the victim-offender relationship. Furthermore, the results revealed that resilience generally demonstrated significant effects on place of crime and the victim-offender relationship. The implications and policy recommendations are then discussed.

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