Dr. Andrew Papachristos is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Visiting Scholar, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
Dr. Andrew Papachristos’ research uses social network analysis to examine: the social structures and group processes at the heart of interpersonal violence and delinquency; issues of group dominance and reciprocity; and the use of violence and honor as measures of social control. In this presentation he uses a social network approach to examine the influence of two dimensions of street gangs on violent behavior: inter-group conflict and the overlap of geographic turf. Inter-group conflict and gang turf are essential aspects of gang formation, group identity, and the collective processes at the foundation of many gang behaviors, including violence.
Using incident level police records and detailed maps of turf boundaries, this paper recreates and analyzes gang violence by examining the social networks of action and reaction that create them. The findings suggest that individual violent interactions between gangs create an institutionalized network of group conflict, net of any gang’s size, racial composition, group specific effects, and turf overlap. Violence moves through these networks through an epidemic-like process of social contagion that is fueled by dominance considerations of gangs jockeying for social status.