Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Prior research examining between community variations in violent crime has largely been guided by the social disorganization perspective and the systemic model of community attachment. This literature supports a strong relation between structural resource deprivation, residential instability, and rates of violent crime. In communities where poverty, unemployment, and broken families are geographically concentrated and home ownership and length of residence are relatively low, levels of violent crime are exacerbated. This dissertation extends prior research by focusing on variation in the nature or quality of violence rather than crime rates or quantities. While many analyses explore variations in rates of crime, few have focused on understanding the contextual level predictors of variation in the relative prevalence of race specific forms of violence. The current study addresses this gap by elaborating a theoretical model that links characteristics of the contextual environment to variations in the prevalence of intra and interracial violence. It is proffered that concentrated disadvantage and residential stability decrease opportunities for fortuitous interracial associations which, in turn, reduce the likelihood that violent crime will involve actors from different race groups. Further, it is predicted that residential racial heterogeneity will increase opportunities for interracial contact and will thus be associated with an increase in the likelihood that violence will be interracial. The model is tested by merging crime data from the National Incident Based Reporting System with data on county characteristics culled from the U.S. Census. Nonlinear multilevel regression analyses provide strong support for the predicted pattern of relations between structural features of communities and the relative prevalence of race specific forms of violence. In communities with higher levels of structural disadvantage and residential stability violent crimes are relatively less likely to be interracial in nature. Conversely, violence that occurs in racially heterogeneous residential environments has an increased probability of being interracial. Analyses also reveal significant disparities in the contextual level correlates of black as compared to white intra-racial violence. The relevance of these findings and implications for criminological theory, future empirical research, and public policy are discussed in the concluding chapter.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lee, Matthew R.



Included in

Sociology Commons