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2 - Theoretical Development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2009

Terance D. Miethe
Affiliation:
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Wendy C. Regoeczi
Affiliation:
Cleveland State University
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Summary

theories of homicide and other criminal behavior are directed at three levels of explanation. Individual-level explanations focus on the characteristics of individuals that influence their differential risks of homicide offending or victimization. Macro-level theories explain differential rates of homicide across geographical units such as countries, states, cities, and neighborhoods. Most situational-level theories examine the context of homicide incidents, focusing on circumstances of the act and its spatial and temporal location.

While an incredible volume of research exists on homicide correlates and its theoretical explanation, we propose that there are two related voids in this research tradition. First, there is wide ambiguity in both the definition of the homicide situation and what constitutes situational analysis. Second, most previous research on homicide is not integrative either across levels of explanation or in terms of its focus on all three basic elements of crime situations (i.e., offender, victim, and offense characteristics). These limitations, in turn, have prevented previous studies from fully documenting the empirical nature of homicide and the adequacies of existing macro- and micro-level theories in accounting for change and stability in homicide situations over time and across subgroups.

After reviewing previous applications of the “situation” in criminological research, this chapter provides the theoretical framework for examining homicide situations in the current study. We demonstrate how basic structural features of homicide situations can be identified and measured empirically. Several macro- and micro-level theories are used to illustrate how particular homicide situations may have changed their basic structural features over time.

Type
Chapter
Information
Rethinking Homicide
Exploring the Structure and Process Underlying Deadly Situations
, pp. 15 - 35
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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