Gang membership, gun carrying, and employment: Applying routine activities theory to explain violent victimization among inner city, minority youth living in extreme poverty

Richard Spano*, Joshua D. Freilich, John Bolland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conceptual inconsistencies in routine activities theory are illustrated by demonstrating how gang membership, gun carrying, and employment can be categorized as both risk and protective factors in a high-poverty context. Two waves of longitudinal data from a high-poverty sample of African American youth were used to examine the determinants of victimization risk. Bivariate analyses indicated that gang membership, gun carrying, and employment status are significant risk factors for violent victimization, but these effects were mediated by measures of lifestyles (e.g., demographic and family factors, deviant lifestyles) included as controls in the full multivariate model. In other words, the strong positive relationship between gang membership and gun carrying found in previous studies may be due to model misspecification and/or the lack of research on high-poverty samples of inner city youth from the Deep South. Additional logistic regression analyses also indicate that the number of hours employed per week (but not employment status) is a risk factor for violent victimization. Finally, the theoretical implications of these findings for routine activities theory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-410
Number of pages30
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

Keywords

  • Employment
  • Extreme poverty
  • Gang membership
  • Gun carrying
  • Inner city
  • Minority
  • Routine activities theory
  • Violent victimization
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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