Wednesday, March 31, 2010

American Journal of Sociology 115(5)

Theorizing the Restlessness of Events
Robin Wagner-Pacifici
This article offers a theoretical and methodological system for a sociological analysis of the restless nature of historical events. This system, political semiosis, is able to identify and assess the performative speech acts, the demonstrative orientational specifications, and the mimetic representations required to advance historical transformations. The features of political semiosis structure the flow of historical events by managing the specific media and generic forms that are the vehicles through which events take shape. Political semiosis provides a method for analyzing both the circulation and the materialization of events. The exemplary case of September 11 illuminates this approach's capabilities.

Social Influence and the Autism Epidemic
Ka-Yuet Liu, Marissa King, and Peter S. Bearman
Despite a plethora of studies, we do not know why autism incidence has increased rapidly over the past two decades. Using California data, this study shows that children living very close to a child previously diagnosed with autism are more likely to be diagnosed with autism. An underlying social influence mechanism involving information diffusion drives this result, contributing to 16% of the increase in prevalence over 2000–2005. We eliminate competing explanations (i.e., residential sorting, environmental toxicants, and viral transmission) through seven tests and show that information diffusion simultaneously contributed to the increased prevalence, spatial clustering, and decreasing age of diagnosis.

Migrants’ Competing Commitments: Sexual Partners in Urban Africa and Remittances to the Rural Origin
Nancy Luke
Migrants form nonfamilial ties in urban destinations, which could compete with origin families for a share of remittances. A framework of competing commitment predicts that new relationships affect remittances depending on the extent to which they substitute for the benefits provided by origin families. Analyses of data from urban migrants in Kenya show that serious nonmarital sexual partners substitute for psychosocial support from the rural family and that material transfers migrants give to these partners significantly reduce remittances. The findings have implications for the ways scholars conceive of competition, the nature of exchange, and substitution of support across intimate relationships.

Gender Inequality in the Welfare State: Sex Segregation in Housework, 1965–2003
Jennifer L. Hook
National context may influence sex segregation of household tasks through both pragmatic decision making and the normative context in which decision making is embedded. This study utilizes 36 time use surveys from 19 countries (spanning 1965–2003) combined with original national-level data in multilevel models to examine household task segregation. Analyses reveal that men do less and women do more time-inflexible housework in nations where work hours and parental leave are long. Women do less of this work where there is more public child care and men are eligible to take parental leave. National context affects the character of gender inequality in the home through individual- and national-level pathways.

Earnings Inequality and the Changing Association between Spouses’ Earnings
Christine R. Schwartz
Increases in the association between spouses' earnings have the potential to increase inequality as marriages increasingly consist of two high-earning or two low-earning partners. This article uses log-linear models and data from the March Current Population Survey to describe trends in the association between spouses' earnings and estimate their contribution to growing earnings inequality among married couples from 1967 to 2005. The results indicate that increases in earnings inequality would have been about 25%–30% lower than observed in the absence of changes in the association, depending on the inequality measure used. Three components of these changes and how they vary across the earnings distribution are explored.

Panethnicity, Ethnic Diversity, and Residential Segregation
Ann H. Kim and Michael J. White
The theoretical and empirical implications of the structural basis of panethnicity and of the layering of ethnic boundaries in residential patterns are considered while simultaneously evaluating the “panethnic hypothesis,” the extent to which homogeneity within panethnic categories can be assumed. Results show a panethnic effect—greater residential proximity within panethnic boundaries than between, net of ethnic group size and metropolitan area—that is dependent on immigration. A lower degree of social distance between panethnic subgroups is observed for blacks, whites, and Latinos, and less for Asians, yet ethnonational groups continue to maintain some degree of distinctiveness within a racialized context.

American Journal of Sociology, March 2010: Volume 115, Issue 5

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Critical Criminology 18(1)

Between the ‘Home’ and ‘Institutional’ Worlds: Tensions and Contradictions in the Practice of House Arrest
William G. Staples & Stephanie K. Decker
In this paper we argue that the theoretical work of Goffman (1961) on “total institutions,” Foucault’s (1977) insights into the workings of disciplinary power, and an account of contemporary forms of punishment and social control in postmodern society (Staples 2000) help us better understand the experiences of those individuals sentenced to house arrest. Based on face-to-face interviews with twenty-three people being electronically monitored in a Midwestern metropolitan area, our analysis identifies three themes that illustrate the ways in which electronic monitoring is experienced as a complex amalgam of what Goffman (1961, p. 13) saw as the distinct “home world” and the “institutional world”. These themes include (1) “Home is Where the Machine Is,” (2) “Producing Docile Bodies,” and (3) “Threat of Sanctions”. We reassert our claim (Staples 1994, 2000) that contemporary forms of social control such as electronic monitoring reflect an ongoing struggle to deal with problems and issues set in motion with the birth of modernity.

Insider Gang Knowledge: The Case for Non-Police Gang Experts in the Courtroom
Victor M. Rios & Karlene Navarro
Drawing on data from surveys and interviews administered to non-police gang experts, the authors argue that police gang detectives are often erroneous in their definition of gang membership and gang-related crime. Police gang experts often mistake signs of urban youth culture for gang membership and criminal conspiracy. Evidence is presented on the ways in which knowledge about gangs is often determined by the social position of the gang expert. Former gang members and community workers may demonstrate a more nuanced and accurate knowledge of gangs than gang detectives. We see the admission of non-police gang expert testimony to the courtroom as a viable way of countering social perceptions that view aspects of gang membership and racial membership interchangeably and possibly help counter disproportionate prison sentences bestowed upon black and Latino youth.

“The Opium Wars”: The Biopolitics of Narcotic Control in the United States, 1914–1935
Saran Ghatak
The emergence of the narcotic control regime in the early twentieth century US provides a historical case study of what Michel Foucault has called “biopolitics”. At the collective level, narcotic control policy emerged as a regulatory mechanism to secure the national population from the spread of addictive substances through an elaborate system of surveillance and control. At the individual level, the drug user emerged as a new criminal subject at the center of an array of medico-penal technologies that sought to understand the psychological and somatic dimensions of addiction, and to normalize the addicted person.

Random Activities Theory: The Case for ‘Black Swan’ Criminology
Timothy Griffin & B. Grant Stitt
In the United States, infamous crimes against innocent victims—especially children—have repeatedly been regarded as justice system “failures” and resulted in reactionary legislation enacted without regard to prospective negative consequences. This pattern in part results when ‘memorial crime control’ advocates implicitly but inappropriately apply the tenets of routine activities theory, wherein crime prevention is presumed to be achievable by hardening likely targets, increasing the costs associated with crime commission, and removing criminal opportunity. In response, the authors argue that academic and public policy discourse will benefit from the inclusion of a new criminological perspective called random activities theory, in which tragic crimes are framed as rare but statistically inevitable ‘Black Swans’ instead of justice system failures. Potential objections and implications for public policy are discussed at length.

Critical Criminology, March 2010: Volume 18, Issue 1

Sociological Theory 28(1)

Phenomenological Additions to the Bourdieusian Toolbox: Two Problems for Bourdieu, Two Solutions from Schutz
Will Atkinson

Epistemology Contextualized: Social-Scientific Knowledge in a Postpositivist Era
Isaac Ariail Reed

Three Problems of Intersubjectivity — And One Solution
Wendelin Reich

Temptation, Tradition, and Taboo: A Theory of Sacralization
Douglas A. Marshall

Knowledge Distribution, Embodiment, and Insulation
Mike Reay

Elective Affinities of the Protestant Ethic: Weber and the Chemistry of Capitalism
Andrew M. McKinnon

Sociological Theory, March 2010: Volume 28, Issue 1

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Journal of Quantitative Criminology 26(1)

Editors’ Introduction: Empirical Evidence on the Relevance of Place in Criminology
Anthony A. Braga and David L. Weisburd

Is it Important to Examine Crime Trends at a Local “Micro” Level?: A Longitudinal Analysis of Street to Street Variability in Crime Trajectories
Elizabeth R. Groff, David Weisburd and Sue-Ming Yang
Over the last 40 years, the question of how crime varies across places has gotten greater attention. At the same time, as data and computing power have increased, the definition of a ‘place’ has shifted farther down the geographic cone of resolution. This has led many researchers to consider places as small as single addresses, group of addresses, face blocks or street blocks. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of the spatial distribution of crime have consistently found crime is strongly concentrated at a small group of ‘micro’ places. Recent longitudinal studies have also revealed crime concentration across micro places is relatively stable over time. A major question that has not been answered in prior research is the degree of block to block variability at this local ‘micro’ level for all crime. To answer this question, we examine both temporal and spatial variation in crime across street blocks in the city of Seattle Washington. This is accomplished by applying trajectory analysis to establish groups of places that follow similar crime trajectories over 16 years. Then, using quantitative spatial statistics, we establish whether streets having the same temporal trajectory are collocated spatially or whether there is street to street variation in the temporal patterns of crime. In a surprising number of cases we find that individual street segments have trajectories which are unrelated to their immediately adjacent streets. This finding of heterogeneity suggests it may be particularly important to examine crime trends at very local geographic levels. At a policy level, our research reinforces the importance of initiatives like ‘hot spots policing’ which address specific streets within relatively small areas.

The Concentration and Stability of Gun Violence at Micro Places in Boston, 1980–2008
Anthony A. Braga, Andrew V. Papachristos and David M. Hureau
Boston, like many other major U.S. cities, experienced an epidemic of gun violence during the late 1980s and early 1990s that was followed by a sudden large downturn in gun violence in the mid 1990s. The gun violence drop continued until the early part of the new millennium. Recent advances in criminological research suggest that there is significant clustering of crime in micro places, or “hot spots,” that generate a disproportionate amount of criminal events in a city. In this paper, we use growth curve regression models to uncover distinctive developmental trends in gun assault incidents at street segments and intersections in Boston over a 29-year period. We find that Boston gun violence is intensely concentrated at a small number of street segments and intersections rather than spread evenly across the urban landscape between 1980 and 2008. Gun violence trends at these high-activity micro places follow two general trajectories: stable concentrations of gun assaults incidents over time and volatile concentrations of gun assault incidents over time. Micro places with volatile trajectories represent less than 3% of street segments and intersections, generate more than half of all gun violence incidents, and seem to be the primary drivers of overall gun violence trends in Boston. Our findings suggest that the urban gun violence epidemic, and sudden downturn in urban gun violence in the late 1990s, may be best understood by examining highly volatile micro-level trends at a relatively small number of places in urban environments.

Activity Fields and the Dynamics of Crime: Advancing Knowledge About the Role of the Environment in Crime Causation
Per-Olof H. Wikström, Vania Ceccato, Beth Hardie and Kyle Treiber
Our current understanding of the role of the social environment in crime causation is at best rudimentary. Guided by the theoretical framework of Situational Action Theory, and using data from the ESRC financed Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+), this paper aims to propose how we can better theorise and study the role of the social environment, particularly the person and place interaction, in crime causation. We will introduce, and illustrate the usefulness of, a space–time budget methodology as a means of capturing people’s exposure to settings and describing their activity fields. We will suggest and demonstrate that, combined with a small area community survey and psychometric measures of individual characteristics, a space–time budget is a powerful tool for advancing our knowledge about the role of the social environment, and its interaction with people’s crime propensity, in crime causation. Our unique data allows us to study the convergence in time and space of crime propensity, criminogenic exposure and crime events. As far as we are aware, such an analysis has never before been carried out. The findings show that there are (a) clear associations between young people’s activity fields and their exposure to criminogenic settings, (b) clear associations between their exposure to criminogenic settings and their crime involvement, and, crucially, (c) that the influence of criminogenic exposure depends on a person’s crime propensity. Having a crime-averse morality and strong ability to exercise self-control appears to make young people practically situationally immune to the influences of criminogenic settings, while having a crime-prone morality and poor ability to exercise self-control appears to make young people situationally vulnerable to the influences of criminogenic settings.

Permeability and Burglary Risk: Are Cul-de-Sacs Safer?
Shane D. Johnson and Kate J. Bowers
That crime is concentrated in space is now accepted as commonplace. Explanations for why it clusters at particular locations are various reflecting the range of factors which are held to influence crime placement. In this article, we focus on the role of the permeability of the street network on the location of crime. We first review the research conducted hitherto, summarising the different approaches to analysis and the findings that have so far emerged. Then we present original analyses conducted at the street segment level to examine the issues at hand. In contrast to much of the prior research, in this study we examine the patterns for a large study area in which there is considerable variation in street network configuration. Moreover, and in contrast to all of the previous research, the approach to analysis takes into account the multi-level structure of the data analysed. The findings demonstrate that increased permeability is associated with elevated burglary risk, that burglary risk is lower on cul-de-sacs (particularly those that are sinuous in nature), and that the risk of burglary is higher on more major roads and those street segments that are connected to them. In the conclusion of the paper we outline an agenda for future research.

Modeling Micro-Level Crime Location Choice: Application of the Discrete Choice Framework to Crime at Places
Wim Bernasco
Discrete choice recently emerged as a new framework for analyzing criminal location decisions, but has thus far only been used to study the choice amongst large areas like census tracts. Because offenders also make target selection decisions at much lower levels of spatial aggregation, the present study analyzes the location choices of offenders at detailed spatial resolutions: the average unit of analysis is an area of only 18 residential units and 40 residents. This article reviews the discrete choice and spatial choice literature, justifies the use of geographic units this small, and argues that because small spatial units depend strongly on their environment, models are needed that take into account spatial interdependence. To illustrate these points, burglary location choice data from the Netherlands are analyzed with discrete choice models, including the spatial competition model.

Assessing the Spatial–Temporal Relationship Between Disorder and Violence
Sue-Ming Yang
The relationship between disorder and violence has generated much debate in the field of criminology. While advocates of the broken windows thesis believe disorder is the root cause of crime, other researchers view both disorder and crime as analogous behaviors resulting from the breakdown of collective efficacy. Scholars from both sides of this debate, however, assume a long-term correlation between disorder and crime at places. This assumption has not been tested with a longitudinal dataset at a relatively small geographic unit of analysis. The current study used data collected in Seattle, Washington and utilized Group-based Trajectory Analysis and Joint Trajectory Analysis to explore the longitudinal relationship between disorder and violence. The results showed that disorder, just like crime, concentrates in a few “hot spots.” Additionally, the results showed that while the lack of disorder problems guarantees places to be violence free, having high levels of disorder predicts having violence problems only about 30% of time. As such, these findings point out the need for future theorization efforts on the disorder-violence nexus to include contextual factors which could explain this imperfect association between the two.

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, March 2010: Volume 26, Issue 1

American Sociological Review 75(1)

I’d Like to Thank the Academy, Team Spillovers, and Network Centrality
Gabriel Rossman, Nicole Esparza, and Phillip Bonacich
This article uses Academy Award nominations for acting to explore how artistic achievement is situated within a collaborative context. Assessment of individual effort is particularly difficult in film because quality is not transparent, but the project-based nature of the field allows us to observe individuals in multiple collaborative contexts. We address these issues with analyses of the top-10 credited roles from films released in theaters between 1936 and 2005. Controlling for an actor’s personal history and the basic traits of a film, we explore two predictions. First, we find that status, as measured by asymmetric centrality in the network of screen credits, is an efficient measure of star power and mediates the relationship between experience and formal artistic consecration. Second, we find that actors are most likely to be consecrated when working with elite collaborators. We conclude by arguing that selection into privileged work teams provides cumulative advantage.

The Myth Incarnate: Recoupling Processes, Turmoil, and Inhabited Institutions in an Urban Elementary School
Tim Hallett
The study of institutional myths has been central to organizational sociology, cultural sociology, and the sociology of education for 30 years. This article examines how the myth concept has been used and develops neglected possibilities by asking: What happens when myths become incarnate, and how does this occur? In other words, what happens when conformity to a rationalized cultural ideal such as "accountability" is no longer symbolic but is given tangible flesh? Data from a two-year ethnography of an urban elementary school provide answers and reveal "recoupling" processes through which institutional myths and organizational practices that were once loosely connected become tightly linked. In the school studied here, recoupling accountability with classroom practices created a phenomenon that teachers labeled "turmoil." The findings advance our understanding of the micro-sociological foundations of institutional theory by "inhabiting" institutionalism with people, their work activities, social interactions, and meaning-making processes.

Still Separate and Unequal?: A City-Level Analysis of the Black-White Gap in Homicide Arrests since 1960
Gary LaFree, Eric P. Baumer, and Robert O’Brien
More than four decades ago, the Kerner Report chronicled the violent disturbances of the 1960s and predicted that the United States was rapidly moving toward two racially separate and unequal societies. Resulting concerns about black and white inequality form a critical chapter in the history of sociological research. Few studies, however, explore trends in racial inequality in rates of violence. Has the gap between black and white violence rates significantly narrowed since 1960 and, if so, why? Drawing on recent work on assimilation and the literature on race inequality, we develop a set of hypotheses about black-white differences in violence rates and how these rates may have changed during the past four decades. We emphasize race differences in family structure, economic and educational inequality, residential integration, illicit drug involvement, and population composition. Using race-specific homicide arrest and census data on social, economic, and demographic conditions for 80 large U.S. cities from 1960 to 2000, we find substantial convergence in black-white homicide arrest rates over time, although this convergence stalled from the 1980s to the 1990s. Consistent with theoretical expectations, we find that, since the 1960s, the racial gap in homicide arrests declined more substantially in cities that had greater reductions in the ratio of black to white single-parent families, as well as in cities that experienced greater population growth and increases in the proportion of the population that is black. Also, as expected, the race gap in homicide arrests widened in cities that had an increasing ratio of black to white rates of drug arrests. Measures of racial integration, however, have no discernible impact on the black to white homicide arrest ratio.

Moving Out but Not Up: Economic Outcomes in the Great Migration
Suzanne C. Eichenlaub, Stewart E. Tolnay, and J. Trent Alexander
The migration of millions of southerners out of the South between 1910 and 1970 is largely attributed to economic and social push factors in the South, combined with pull factors in other regions of the country. Researchers generally find that participants in this migration were positively selected from their region of origin, in terms of educational attainment and urban status, and that they fared relatively well in their destinations. To fully measure the migrants’ success, however, a comparison with those who remained in the South is necessary. This article uses data from the U.S. Census to compare migrants who left the South with their southern contemporaries who stayed behind, both those who moved within the South and the sedentary population. The findings indicate that migrants who left the South did not benefit appreciably in terms of employment status, income, or occupational status. In fact, inter-regional migrants often fared worse than did southerners who moved within the South or those who remained sedentary. These results contradict conventional wisdom regarding the benefits of exiting the South and suggest the need for a revisionist interpretation of the experiences of those who left.

Social Change and Socioeconomic Disparities in Health over the Life Course in China: A Cohort Analysis
Feinian Chen, Yang Yang, and Guangya Liu
This article examines social stratification in individual health trajectories for multiple cohorts in the context of China’s dramatically changing macro-social environment. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, we find significant socioeconomic status (SES) differences in the mean level of health and that these SES differentials generally diverge over the life course. We also find strong cohort variations in SES disparities in the mean levels of health and health trajectories. The effect of education on health slightly decreases across successive cohorts. By contrast, the income gap in health trajectories diverges for earlier cohorts but converges for most recent cohorts. Both effects are more pronounced in rural areas. Given that these cohort effects are opposite those reported in recent U.S. studies, we discuss China’s unique social, economic, and political settings. We highlight the association between SES and health behaviors, China’s stage of epidemiologic transition, and the changing power of the state government and its implications for health care.

Is There a Downside to Shooting for the Stars?: Unrealized Educational Expectations and Symptoms of Depression
John R. Reynolds and Chardie L. Baird
Despite decades of research on the benefits of educational expectations, researchers have failed to show that unrealized plans are consequential for mental health, as self-discrepancy and other social psychological theories would predict. This article uses two national longitudinal studies of youth to test whether unrealized educational expectations are associated with depression in adulthood. Negative binomial regression analyses show that unmet expectations are associated with a greater risk of depression among young adults who share similar educational expectations. The apparent consequences of aiming high and falling short result, however, from lower attainment, not the gap between plans and attainment. Results indicate almost no long-term emotional costs of "shooting for the stars" rather than planning for the probable, once educational attainment is taken into account. This lack of association also holds after accounting for early mental health, the magnitude of the shortfall, the stability of expectations, and college-related resources, and it is robust across two distinct cohorts of high school students. We develop a theory of "adaptive resilience" to account for these findings and, because aiming high and failing are not consequential for mental health, conclude that society should not dissuade unpromising students from dreams of college.

American Sociological Review, February 2010: Volume 75, Issue 1

American Journal of Sociology 115(4)

Six Degrees of “Who Cares?”
Rick Grannis
The concept that we live in small world networks connected by short paths has proved fascinating. These networks, however, do not typically emerge as linear responses to individual-level changes; rather, subtle changes in relations produce extraordinarily different macrolevel outcomes. Similarly, nuances in how we conceptualize, define, and measure relations can lead to widely different network characterizations. The author demonstrates this variability using a spectrum of interaction types and argue that the dependence of results on subtleties in definition or measurement makes theoretical interpretation difficult. He offers an index to calculate how much inaccuracy or imprecision relational definitions or data-gathering techniques can tolerate before results yield utterly different interpretations.

The Social Structure of the World Polity
Jason Beckfield
World polity research argues that modern states are shaped by embeddedness in a network of international organizations, and yet the structure of that network is rarely examined. This is surprising, given that world polity theory implies that the world polity should be an increasingly dense, even, flat field of association. This article describes the social structure of the world polity, using network analysis of the complete population of intergovernmental organizations as it has evolved since 1820. Analysis of the world polity's structure reveals growing fragmentation, driven by exclusive rather than universalist intergovernmental organizations. The world polity has thus grown less cohesive, more fragmented, more heterogeneous, and less “small worldly” in its structure. This structure reflects a recent rise in the regionalization of the world polity.

Global Neighborhoods: New Pathways to Diversity and Separation
John R. Logan and Charles Zhang
Analyses of neighborhood racial composition in 1980–2000 demonstrate that in multiethnic metropolitan regions there is an emerging pathway of change that leads to relatively stable integration These are “global neighborhoods” where Hispanics and Asians are the pioneer integrators of previously all-white zones, later followed by blacks. However, region-wide segregation is maintained at high levels by whites' avoidance of all-minority areas and by their continued exodus (albeit at reduced levels) from mixed settings. Globalization of neighborhoods adds a positive new element of diversity that alters but does not erase the traditional dynamic of minority invasion succession.

Interneighborhood Migration, Race, and Environmental Hazards: Modeling Microlevel Processes of Environmental Inequality
Kyle Crowder and Liam Downey
This study combines longitudinal individual-level data with neighborhood-level industrial hazard data to examine the extent and sources of environmental inequality. Results indicate that profound racial and ethnic differences in proximity to industrial pollution persist when differences in individual education, household income, and other microlevel characteristics are controlled. Examination of underlying migration patterns further reveals that black and Latino householders move into neighborhoods with significantly higher hazard levels than do comparable whites and that racial differences in proximity to neighborhood pollution are maintained more by these disparate mobility destinations than by differential effects of pollution on the decision to move.

Structural Folds: Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups
Balázs Vedres and David Stark
Entrepreneurial groups face a twinned challenge: recognizing and implementing new ideas. We argue that entrepreneurship is less about importing ideas than about generating new knowledge by recombining resources. In contrast to the brokerage-plus-closure perspective, we address the overlapping of cohesive group structures. In analyzing the network processes of intercohesion, we identify a distinctive network topology: the structural fold. Actors at the structural fold are multiple insiders, facilitating familiar access to diverse resources. Our data set records personnel ties among the largest 1,696 Hungarian enterprises from 1987 to 2001. First, we test whether structural folding contributes to group performance. Second, because entrepreneurship is a process of generative disruption, we test the contribution of structural folds to group instability. Third, we move from dynamic methods to historical network analysis and demonstrate that coherence is a property of interwoven lineages of cohesion, built up through repeated separation and reunification.

Leadership, Membership, and Voice: Civic Associations That Work
Kenneth T. Andrews, Marshall Ganz, Matthew Baggetta, Hahrie Han, and Chaeyoon Lim
Why are some civic associations more effective than others? The authors introduce a multidimensional framework for analyzing the effectiveness of civic associations in terms of public recognition, member engagement, and leader development. Using original surveys of local Sierra Club organizations and leaders, the authors assess prevailing explanations in organization and movement studies alongside a model highlighting leadership and internal organizational practices. Although available resources and favorable contexts matter, the core findings show that associations with more committed activists, that build organizational capacity, that carry out strong programmatic activity, and whose leaders work independently, generate greater effectiveness across outcomes.

American Journal of Sociology, January 2010: Volume 115, Issue 4

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crime & Delinquency 56(2)

Opportunities, Rational Choice, and Self-Control: On the Interaction of Person and Situation in a General Theory of Crime
Christian Seipel and Stefanie Eifler
In this article, deviant action is analyzed on the basis of ideas derived from Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory. Presumedly, self-control in interaction with opportunities can explain deviant action. This assumption is elaborated using the concept of high- and low-cost situations from rational choice theory. From this point of view, the hypotheses are that self-control predicts deviant action in low-cost situations, whereas utility predicts deviant action in high-cost situations. Two test strategies are employed in an empirical examination of these hypotheses. A standardized questionnaire was presented to a sample of 494 German adults aged 18 to 80. The results of both test strategies show that the assumptions of an interaction effect between self-control and opportunities are fundamentally supported.

Explaining Victim Self-Protective Behavior Effects on Crime Incident Outcomes: A Test of Opportunity Theory
Rob T. Guerette and Shannon A. Santana
Prior research on victim self-protective behavior (VSPB) has largely been void of a theoretical basis. Accordingly, it remains unclear why it would be expected that victim actions might mitigate crime incident outcomes or under which circumstances such actions might be most successful. Using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey for periods 1992 to 2004, this study uses a nested logistic regression analysis to test the predictive utility of opportunity theory in explaining outcomes of VSPB during incidents of robbery and rape. The results suggest that opportunity theory provides a useful framework for understanding the effect of victim resistance on crime outcomes. Greater levels of victim resistance increase the effort needed by offenders, resulting in some cases in a 93% and 92% decrease in the odds of a robbery and rape being completed, respectively, compared to when no resistance is used. Implications for crime prevention practice are discussed.

Defiance Theory and Life Course Explanations of Persistent Offending
Leana Allen Bouffard and Nicole Leeper Piquero
Criminologists have long grappled with the varying effect of sanctions. In an effort to clarify these divergent effects, Sherman (1993) delineated a general theory of sanction effects, termed defiance theory. Defiance theory anticipates that there are four necessary conditions for defiance to occur: (a) the sanction must be perceived as unfair; (b) the offender must be poorly bonded; (c) the sanction must be perceived as stigmatizing; and (d) the offender denies the shame produced by the sanction. This study provides one of the first empirical assessments of defiance theory. In addition, defiance theory is examined within the life-course perspective, and analyses address trajectories of offending. Using data from the 1945 Philadelphia Birth Cohort, the results yield promising support for the theory.

Testing Incapacitation Theory: Youth Crime and Incarceration in California
Christina Stahlkopf, Mike Males, and Daniel Macallair
Under incapacitation theory, higher incarceration rates are expected to correlate with accelerated reductions in crime. California’s contemporary incarceration patterns offer an opportunity to analyze the validity of this theory, particularly as it applies to young people. This study focuses on California’s juvenile incarceration and crime trends during the past half century. The findings of this study fail to demonstrate reduced crime rates through higher levels of juvenile incarceration, calling deterrence and incapacitation theories into serious question as effective youth crime reduction strategies and demonstrating the urgent need for California policy makers and legislators to consider alternative theories in response to crime and sentencing.

Trust and Confidence in the Courts: Does the Quality of Treatment Young Offenders Receive Affect Their Views of the Courts?
Jane B. Sprott and Carolyn Greene
It is assumed that legitimacy of the legal system is important, yet almost nothing is known about how young offenders view this institution. A sample of youths were interviewed at their first appearance in court and asked about their feelings regarding how they have been treated (procedural justice) by their lawyer, by the crown attorney, and by the judge, as well as their views on the overall legitimacy of the legal system. Youths were again interviewed at sentencing, using the same questionnaire, to explore changes in their views over time. Generally, it appears that how youths feel they have been treated— specifically, by their own lawyer and by the judge—affected broad views of legitimacy, even when controlling for their overall satisfaction of the outcome of their case.

Interdistrict Disparity in Sentencing in Three U.S. District Courts
Jawjeong Wu and Cassia Spohn
Research examining disparities in sentencing outcomes under federal sentencing guidelines has focused almost exclusively on aggregate national data. Although these studies contribute considerably to the criminological literature on sentencing disparity, their findings may have masked contextual variation in relation to case processing across jurisdictions. With data from the U.S. District Courts for Minnesota, Nebraska, and Southern Iowa for 1998 through 2000, this article assesses whether interdistrict variations in sentence outcomes exist and whether the factors that affect these outcomes vary across jurisdictions. It also attempts to determine whether disparities in sentence outcomes can be attributed to downward departures. The findings raise questions about the validity of the assumption of uniformity in the federal sentencing process and the use of aggregate data to study federal sentence outcomes.

Crime & Delinquency, April 2010: Volume 56, Issue 2

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Criminology 48(1)

Policy and Evidence: the Challenge to the American Society of Criminology: 2009 Presidential Address to the American Society of Criminology
Todd R. Clear

Normalization and Legitimation: Modeling Stigmatizing Attitudes Toward Ex-Offenders
Paul J. Hirschfield, Alex R. Piquero
Successful community reentry and the criminological impact of incarceration may depend in part on the attitudes (and consequent reactions) that prisoners encounter after release. Theories of social stigma suggest that such attitudes depend, in turn, on the levels of familiarity with the stigmatized group (the normalization thesis) as well as on the credibility and trust they accord to sanctioning agents (the legitimation thesis). To assess these two hypotheses, we present the first multivariate analysis of public attitudes toward ex-offenders. Data from a four-state, random-digit telephone survey of more than 2,000 individuals indicate that, net of controls, personal familiarity with ex-offenders may soften attitudes, whereas confidence in the courts may harden them. As expected, non-Hispanic Whites, conservatives, and southern residents hold more negative views of ex-offenders. Our findings lend indirect support to concerns that incarceration is becoming "normalized", and we suggest strategies for reducing the stigma of incarceration.

Proactive Policing and Robbery Rates Across U.S. Cities
Charis E. Kubrin, Steven F. Messner, Glenn Deane, Kelly Mcgeever, Thomas D. Stucky
In recent years, criminologists, as well as journalists, have devoted considerable attention to the potential deterrent effect of what is sometimes referred to as "proactive" policing. This policing style entails the vigorous enforcement of laws against relatively minor offenses to prevent more serious crime. The current study examines the effect of proactive policing on robbery rates for a sample of large U.S. cities using an innovative measure developed by Sampson and Cohen (1988). We replicate their cross-sectional analyses using data from 2000 to 2003, which is a period that proactive policing is likely to have become more common than that of the original study—the early 1980s. We also extend their analyses by estimating a more comprehensive regression model that incorporates additional theoretically relevant predictors. Finally, we advance previous research in this area by using panel data, The cross-sectional analyses replicate prior findings of a negative relationship between proactive policing and robbery rates. In addition, our dynamic models suggest that proactive policing is endogenous to changes in robbery rates. When this feedback between robbery and proactive policing is eliminated, we find more evidence to support our finding that proactive policing reduces robbery rates.

The Social Sources of Americans' Punitiveness: A Test of Three Competing Models
James D. Unnever, Francis T. Cullen
The sustained movement to "get tough" on crime, especially through mass imprisonment, has prompted several prominent efforts to explain the public's harshness toward crime. From the extant literature, we demarcate the following three competing theories of public punitiveness: the escalating crime-distrust model, the moral decline model, and the racial animus model. Controlling for other known predictors of crime-related opinions, we test the explanatory power of these perspectives to account for support for the death penalty and for a punitive crime-control approach. Our analysis of a national sample of respondents surveyed in the 2000 National Election Study reveals partial support for each model. Racial animus, however, seems to exert the most consistent effect on public sentiments. This finding suggests that racial resentments are inextricably entwined in public punitiveness and thus should be incorporated into any complete theory of this phenomenon.

Reporting Crime to the Police, 1973–2005: A Multivariate Analysis of Long-Term Trends in the National Crime Survey (NCS) and National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Eric P. Baumer, Janet L. Lauritsen
Although many efforts have been made during the past several decades to increase the reporting of crime to the police, we know little about the nature of long-term crime-reporting trends. Most research in this area has been limited to specific crime types (e.g., sexual assault), or it has not taken into account possible changes in the characteristics of incidents associated with police notification. In this article, we advance knowledge about long-term trends in the reporting of crime to the police by using data from the National Crime Survey (NCS) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and methods that take into account possible changes in the factors that affect reporting at the individual and incident level as well as changes in survey methodology. Using data from 1973 to 2005, our findings show that significant increases have occurred in the likelihood of police notification for sexual assault crimes as well as for other forms of assault and that these increases were observed for violence against women and violence against men, stranger and nonstranger violence, as well as crimes experienced by members of different racial and ethnic groups. The reporting of property victimization (i.e., motor vehicle theft, burglary, and larceny) also increased across time. Overall, observed increases in crime reporting account for about half of the divergence between the NCVS and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) in the estimated magnitude of the 1990s crime decline—a result that highlights the need to corroborate findings about crime trends from multiple data sources.

Influence and Selection Processes in Weapon Carrying During Adolescence: The Roles of Status, Aggression, and Vulnerability
Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Siegwart Lindenberg, René Veenstra, Christian Steglich, Jenny Isaacs, Noel A. Card, Ernest V. E. Hodges
The role of peers in weapon carrying (guns, knives, and other weapons) inside and outside the school was examined in this study. Data stem from a longitudinal study of a high-risk sample of male students (7th to 10th grade; N = 167) from predominantly Hispanic low-socio-economic-status schools in the United States. Longitudinal social-network models were used to test whether similarity in weapon carrying among friends results from peer influence or selection. From a goal-framing approach, we argue that weapon carrying might function as a status symbol in friendship networks and, consequently, be subject to peer influence. The findings indicate that weapon carrying is indeed a result of peer influence. The role of status effects was supported by findings that weapon carrying increased the number of friendship nominations received by peers and reduced the number of given nominations. In addition, peer-reported aggressiveness predicted weapon carrying 1 year later. These findings suggest that adolescent weapon carrying emerges from a complex interplay between the attraction of weapon carriers for affiliation, peer influence in friendship networks, and individual aggression.

Motherhood and Criminal Desistance in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods
Derek A. Kreager, Ross L. Matsueda, Elena A. Erosheva
Evidence from several qualitative studies has suggested that the transition to motherhood has strong inhibitory effects on the delinquency and drug use trajectories of poor women. Quantitative studies, however, typically have failed to find significant parenthood or motherhood effects. We argue that the latter research typically has not examined motherhood in disadvantaged settings or applied the appropriate statistical method. Focusing on within-individual change, we test the motherhood hypothesis using data from a 10-year longitudinal study of more than 500 women living in disadvantaged Denver communities. We find that the transition to motherhood is associated significantly with reductions in delinquency, marijuana, and alcohol behaviors. Moreover, we find that the effect of motherhood is larger than that of marriage for all outcomes. These results support the qualitative findings and suggest that the transition to motherhood—and not marriage—is the primary turning point for disadvantaged women to exit delinquent and drug-using trajectories.

The Interplay of Moral Norms and Instrumental Incentives in Crime Causation
Clemens Kroneberg, Isolde Heintze, Guido Mehlkop
Rational choice theories (RCTs) of crime assume actors behave in an instrumental, outcome-oriented way. Accordingly, individuals should weight the costs and benefits of criminal acts with subjective probabilities that these outcomes will occur. Previous studies either do not directly test this central hypothesis or else yield inconsistent results. We show that a meaningful test can be conducted only if a broader view is adopted that takes into account the interplay of moral norms and instrumental incentives. Such a view can be derived from the Model of Frame Selection (Kroneberg, 2005) and the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation (Wikström, 2004). Based on these theories, we analyze the willingness to engage in shoplifting and tax fraud in a sample of 2,130 adults from Dresden, Germany. In line with our theoretical expectations, we find that only respondents who do not feel bound by moral norms show the kind of instrumental rationality assumed in RCTs of crime. Where norms have been strongly internalized, and in the absence of neutralizations, instrumental incentives are irrelevant.

Distinguishing Facts and Artifacts in Group-Based Modeling
Torbjørn Skardhamar
Group-based methodology (SPGM) has been presented as suitable to test for the existence of subpopulations not directly observable. Several criminological studies have used this methodology, and it is fair to say that typological theorizing has been spurred by its development. In particular, much of the empirical support for Moffitt's taxonomy (1993, 2006) is from studies using SPGM. In a small simulation experiment, I investigate whether SPGM is suitable for such tests, and I examine the extent to which similar trajectories might equally well result from mechanisms suggested by general theories. I conclude that, as it is usually applied, SPGM cannot provide evidence either for or against a taxonomy and that the usual findings can be explained by competing theories. I argue that this result is not only because of the methodology characteristics but also because of the modeling strategy applied.

[Research Note] Does Violence Involving Women and Intimate Partners Have a Special Etiology?
Richard B. Felson, Kelsea Jo Lane
We used data from a survey of inmates who have committed homicide or assault to examine whether men and women who have killed or assaulted their intimate partners are different from other violent offenders. A "gender perspective" implies that intimate partner violence and violence between the sexes have different etiologies than other types of violence, whereas a "violence perspective" implies that they have similar etiologies. Our evidence supports a violence perspective. In general, offenders who attack their partners are similar to other offenders in terms of their prior records, alcohol and drug use, and experiences of abuse. We observed some differences between men who attack women (including their female partners) and other male offenders, but the differences were opposite those predicted by a gender perspective. For example, men who attacked their partners were particularly likely to have been abused by their partners. In addition, men who attacked women were particularly likely to have experienced sexual abuse during childhood and to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident. These results suggest that some well-known predictors of violence are particularly strong predictors of male violence against women and female partners.

Criminology, February 2010: Volume 48, Issue 1