Title page for ETD etd-08202010-153424

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Berthelot, Emily R.
URN etd-08202010-153424
Title Person or Place? A Contextual Event-History Analysis of Homicide Victimization Risk
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Blanchard, Troy C. Committee Co-Chair
Lee, Matthew R. Committee Co-Chair
Bankston, William B. Committee Member
Shihadeh, Edward S. Committee Member
Clare, Joseph D. Dean's Representative
  • individual-level
  • National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
  • contextual-level
  • multi-level
  • lifestyle theory
  • homicide
  • social disorganization theory
Date of Defense 2010-08-05
Availability unrestricted
This study is a contextual event history analysis of the risk of homicide victimization in the United States from 1986 to 2002. Although the majority of research on homicide deals with how community factors influence homicide rates, a much less studied aspect of homicide victimization deals with the influence of individual factors on homicide victimization risk. This study examines the influence of contextual-level measures of social disorganization on the risk of homicide victimization and focuses specifically on how the effects of these measures change once individual-level characteristics are considered in the models.

Grounded in social disorganization theory, this study includes contextual-level predictors of disadvantage, including measures representative of resource deprivation, urbanness, and housing instability. Lifestyle theory suggests that a personís individual attributes may compel that person to behave in certain ways that may work to either increase or decrease their risk of being the victim of a crime, and may also reduce or diminish the effects of the social structure on their risk of victimization.

This study, using National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data matched with National Death Index (NDI) data, examines the intersection of these ideas and seeks to explain how community context influences oneís chance of being a homicide victim and especially on how individual attributes alter the relationship between community context and homicide victimization.

The findings of this research indicate that individuals living in areas with high concentrations of disadvantage, such as resource deprivation, urbanization, and housing instability experience increased risk of being the victim of a homicide. However, a personís individual traits, particularly age, race, and sex do, in fact, greatly reduce the criminogenic consequences of both resource deprivation and housing instability on their risk of being killed by a homicide. However, regardless of a personís individual attributes, living in an area with high levels of urbanization have three times greater odds of being killed by a homicide, compared to personís living in MSAs with less urbanization. In this study, urbanization is measured using an index obtained from a principal components analysis that contains measures of population size, population density, and two measures of racial/ethnic heterogeneity.

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