Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The Southern region of the United States historically has a high rate of violent crime, especially homicide. This has led to a number of studies tackling the issue by relying on subcultural theory or by using structural correlates of crime to account for the South versus non-South difference in homicide. Macro level research has focused on pitting culture (usually measured by a dummy variable for South) against structural characteristics such as poverty and measures of income inequality, but suffers from a lack of direct cultural measures needed to successfully evaluate the subcultural thesis. Micro level research tends to focus on the attitudes of Southerners and finds that they tend to hold a heightened approval of violence in specific situations. However, micro level studies suffer from similar critiques as they tend to neglect structural explanations and are unable to evaluate whether these attitudes have any effect on violent crime. This dissertation proposes a solution to the problems plaguing previous research by aggregating survey data on attitudes toward violence from the General Social Survey (GSS) to the Primary Sampling Unit (PSU) level of analysis and using them to predict actual rates of violence. Results from this analysis indicate that a measure of Extreme Violent attitudes is positively and significantly related to measures of homicide derived from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Supplementary Homicide Reports. This relationship remains in a multivariate model with several control variables used in previous studies on homicide and on the Southern subculture of violence. This would indicate that areas with cultural values approving of violence in a broad range of situations also have higher levels of homicide offending. However, these findings do not support an exclusively Southern subculture of violence, since it is not clear from these data what accounts for the regional differences in homicide. Nevertheless, this study provides a level of evidence for the existence of a subculture of violence not previously achieved in the earlier work in this area. Limitations of this study and several relevant directions for future research are also discussed in the concluding chapter.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Matthew R. Lee



Included in

Sociology Commons