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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Michael T. Klemp-North
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: A Cross-Sectional Approach to Institutional Anomie Theory and Gang-Related Homicide
Dr. Charles Crawford, Chair
Dr. Douglas Davidson
Dr. Gregory Howard
Dr. Mark Orbe
Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
2526 Sangren Hall
Gangs have recently migrated from major metropolitan areas to suburban and rural communities throughout the United States. This migration creates a need for further research and understanding of the gang phenomenon in the United States. One commonly studied aspect of gangs is their propensity to participate in homicide and violent behavior. This tendency has been tested and written about in the literature; however, none of the research addresses the migration and dispersion of gangs throughout states. Therefore, new approaches are needed to better understand gangs and their behavior outside of urban areas.
This study is the first state-level test of gang homicide variation. Previous gang homicide studies incorporate structural level variables but are limited to metropolitan and urban areas. In addition, the inclusion of structural level variables is commonly without an appropriate theoretical framework able to explain variation in gang homicide rates across states. Messner and Rosenfeld’s (2007) institutional anomie theory provides this framework incorporating the interaction between the cultural ethos and social institutions of states.
Gang homicides, as reported in the Uniform Crime Report Supplementary Homicide Reports from 2000, are used as the dependent variable in the multiple regression models. Cultural ethos is measured through economic decom-modification and education, and polity, family, and religion are included as structural measures. Characteristics of a state’s population are also included in the regression. These characteristics include: age structure, urban population, minority population, new immigrants, and incarcerated drug offenders. Additive and interactive relationships are tested using multiple regression.
The results of the present study do not provide support for the theoretical model. Support is not found in either the interactive or additive models for any of the structural or cultural theoretical measures. Urban population and the state’s age structure provide partial empirical support in both the additive and interactive models. Race and immigrant status, as well as drug incarceration rates, do not have empirical support. This study concludes with a discussion of its limitations and future research ideas.