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Criminologists collaborate on upcoming publication

Publication News

Posted: Dec 05, 2014 - 12:00am

Title:  Political Context of the Percent Black-Neighborhood Violence Link: A Multilevel Analysis

Authors:  María B. Vélez, Christopher J. Lyons, and Wayne A. Santoro

Abstract:  A century of urban research has established that percentage black associates positively with violence at the neighborhood level.  We extend traditional structural explanations for this association by drawing attention to the political contexts of cities that may influence the race-violence link. Drawing on insights from social movement and racial politics literatures, we contend that the relationship between percentage black and neighborhood violence will be attenuated in cities with greater black political opportunities and black mobilization. We examine this thesis using multilevel data from the National Neighborhood Crime Study that provide socio-demographic and violence data for Census tracts nested within 87 large cities. We pair these data with city-level measures of black political opportunities and mobilization.  Multilevel analyses reveal that the relationship between percentage black and violence varies substantially across cities, and that the average positive relationship often is attenuated, and reduced to statistical insignificance, in cities with favorable political contexts.  We propose that the substantive and symbolic benefits set in motion by favorable political contexts lay the foundation for neighborhood organization against violence.​