Institute for Excellence in Justice Symposium
How can we understand the dramatic linkages among race, ethnicity, place, and violent crime in the United States? A major structural perspective contends that differences in criminal violence across communities of varying race-ethnic compositions are rooted in the highly differentiated social and economic circumstances of the segregated neighborhoods inhabited by Whites, African Americans, Latinos and other groups. In this paper, we seek to draw upon and expand this perspective by exploring the ways in which the social structural context of neighborhoods that surround communities of distinct colors advantage White areas while disadvantaging non-White areas in ways that heighten differences in violence across neighborhoods. Such an approach moves us beyond considering inequality in neighborhood violence as the sole product of differentiation in the internal conditions of communities and toward the study of race-ethnic differences in rates of violence as part of a broader racial and spatial dynamic that permeates the U.S. urban landscape. We use data from the National Neighborhood Crime Study (NNCS) to examine this racial-spatial dynamic of violence for a diverse set of neighborhoods in cities across the United States.