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9 - Victim–Offender Relationships

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

… Homicide is a dynamic relationship between two or more persons caught up in a life drama where they operate in a direct, interactional relationship. More so than in any other violation of conduct norms, the relationship the victim bears to the offender plays a role in explaining the reasons for such flagrant violation.

(Wolfgang, 1958:203)

classifications of homicide according to the victim–offender relationship have a relatively long history. Victim–offender relationships have been variously defined in terms of the nature of social bonds between the parties, their “relational distance,” and the motives that bring and hold the participants together (see Polk 1994; Silverman and Kennedy 1987; Wolfgang 1958). Social relationships between victims and offenders vary in intensity along a continuum, ranging from intimate familial roles (e.g., spouses, lovers) at one extreme, friends and acquaintances (e.g., neighbors, coworkers) as an intermediate category, and strangers at the other end. Most research has employed a simple dichotomy to characterize the victim–offender relationship (e.g., primary vs. secondary relations, intimates vs. nonintimates, strangers vs. nonstrangers). Whatever the particular classification scheme, the major assumption is that subcategories of victim–offender relationships form the basis for fundamentally distinct homicide situations.

This chapter explores the nature of variability in homicide situations within and between different types of victim–offender relationships. QCA is used to examine similarities and differences in the structure of homicide situations for three major homicide subgroups: intimates and family members, friends and acquaintances, and strangers.

Type
Chapter
Information
Rethinking Homicide
Exploring the Structure and Process Underlying Deadly Situations
, pp. 227 - 255
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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