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RDCJN Articles

Here are some of the recent articles published by RDCJN members. Below are the featured articles for April 2017. Each month we feature new articles, so check back to discover a new set of articles next month. Authors in bold are RDCJN members

The Organization of Expert Activism: Shadow Mobilization in Two Social Movements

By Scott Frickel, Rebekah Torcasso and Annika Anderson

In Mobilization: An International Quarterly, September 2015, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 305-323


The organization of expert activism is a problem of increasing importance for social movement organizers and scholars alike. Yet the relative invisibility of expert activists within social movements makes them difficult to systematically identify and study. This article offers two related ways forward. First, we advance a theory of “shadow mobilization” to explain the organization of expert activism in the broader context of proliferating risk and intensifying knowledge-based conflict. Second, we introduce a new methodological approach for collecting systematic data on members of this difficult-to-reach population. Findings from comparative analysis of expert activists in the environmental justice movement in Louisiana and the alternative agriculture movement in Washington reveal both important commonalities and fine-grained differences, suggesting that shadow mobilizations are strategic collective responses to cumulative risk in contemporary society.

Policing Immigrants or Policing Immigration? Understanding the Relationships between Local Law Enforcement Agencies and Immigration Enforcement

By Amada Armenta and Isabela Alvarez

In Sociology Compass, 2017, Volume 11, Issue 2, p. 1-10 and Isabela Alvarez


As the United States has expanded its immigration control strategies, police participation in immigration enforcement has increased in scope and intensity. Local law enforcement agencies contribute to immigration enforcement in three key ways: through the direct enforcement of immigration law, through cooperation with federal immigration authorities, and through the everyday policing of immigrant communities. These enforcement approaches have consequences for unauthorized immigrants, and for the agencies and officers tasked with providing them police services. This article reviews local law enforcement practices and argues that future research should move away from an exclusive examination of police policies towards immigrants, to consider how the policing of immigrants actually occurs on the ground. Moreover, we argue that as long as discretionary arrests funnel removable immigrants into the deportation system, some immigrant communities will perceive policing as fundamentally unfair and discriminatory.

An Evaluation of the Federal Legal Services Program: Evidence from Crime Rates and Property Values

By Jamein P. Cunningham

In Journal of Urban Economics, 2016, 92: 76-90


This paper uses the city-level roll-out of legal service grants to evaluate their effects on crime. Using Uniform Crime Reports from 1960 to 1985, the results show that there is a short-run increase of 7% in crimes reported and a 16% increase in crimes cleared by arrest. Results show an increase in the staffing of police officers in cities that received legal services. These cities are also associated with having higher median property values 10 years later. This supports the narrative that legal services changed police behavior through litigation or threats of litigation.

Moving beyond the Emphasis on Bullying: A Generalized Approach to Peer Aggression in High School

By Christopher Donoghue and Alicia Raia-Hawrylak

In Children & Schools, January 2016, Volume 38(1), p. 30-39


Heightened attention to bullying in research and in the media has led to a proliferation of school climate surveys that ask students to report their level of involvement in bullying. In this study, the authors reviewed the challenges associated with measuring bullying and the implications they have on the reliability of school climate surveys. Then they used data from a sample of 810 students in a large public high school in New Jersey to evaluate the merits of using a more generalized definition of aggression in school climate research. Similar to national surveys of bullying, the authors found that boys were more likely than girls to be involved as aggressors, victims, and victim-aggressors for verbal aggression, physical aggression, threats, and damage to property. Girls were more likely to be involved in social aggression. Few differences were observed in aggressive behaviors by grade, but grade level moderated the differences by gender for all types of aggression. The findings demonstrate what school social workers can expect to learn about school climate by using a survey instrument to measure the prevalence of specific categories of aggression that do not include the requisite power differential, a minimum duration of victimization, or an intentionality test.

Gender-Specific Conflicts among Urban African-American Youth: The Roles of Situational Context and Issues of Contention

By Jennifer Cobbina, Toya Like and Jody Miller

In Deviant Behavior, September 2016, Volume 37, Issue 9, p. 1032-1051


The literatures on violence among young men and young women have highlighted the importance of situational context. However, few studies have compared disputes that do not result in violence with those that do, and even fewer have been positioned to investigate the role situational context may play across gender in accounting for these outcomes. Drawing on recent scholarship on gender and violence, this research explores the situational contexts of youth conflicts among African-American adolescent boys and girls. Using a large sample of narrative accounts of 153 violent and nonviolent conflicts, we examine how youth describe the issues of contention in their conflicts, how these relate to the situational contexts in which conflicts emerge, and similarities and differences in the antecedents, contexts, and extent of male and female violence.

Hope in the Social Environment: Factors Affecting Future Aspirations and School Self-Efficacy for Youth in Urban Environments

By Henrika McCoy and Elizabeth Bowen

In Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, April 2015, Volume 32, Issues 2, p. 131-141


Having a sense of hope and aspirations for the future are often conceptualized as components of resilience for youth in urban environments. However, less is known about the factors that may influence how young people develop their future aspirations, and how those aspirations may impact their experiences at school. This study uses structural equation modeling to identify some potential pathways through which parental relationships and neighborhood environments may impact perceptions of future success and associations between future aspirations and self-efficacy in school settings for adolescents in urban environments. Data from a self-efficacy questionnaire completed by 489 participants in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (mean age 17.2) were used to test the fit of our conceptual model. The analyses indicated strong relationships among the variables and a robust model fit, as assessed by multiple fit indices. The findings suggest that several factors, including neighborhood safety and supportive parental relationships, can help youth maintain hope for the future and that such future aspirations can bolster adolescents' sense of self-efficacy in school. Implications of these findings for social work theory, practice, policy, and research are described.

'I'm Still Waiting on that Golden Ticket': Attitudes toward the Experiences with Opportunity in the Streets of Black America

By Yasser Payne and Tara Brown

In Journal of Social Issues, December 2016, Volume 72, Issue 4, p. 789-811


Fifteen residents (20-48), formerly of the streets and/or criminal justice system, were organized into a street participatory action research team to conduct a street ethnographic community needs assessment of the Eastside and Southbridge neighborhoods of Wilmington, Delaware. This article is primarily a qualitative analysis of the educational and employment experiences of a community sample of street identified Black men and women between the ages of 18-35. This secondary analysis is guided by the question: How do street-identified Black men and women frame their experiences with educational and employment opportunity? Mixed methods were employed to collect data in the form of: (1) 520 surveys; (2) 24 individual interviews; (3) four dual interviews; (4) three group interviews; and (5) extensive ethnographic field observations. All data were collected in the actual streets of Wilmington, Delaware (e.g., street corners, local parks, barbershops, local record/DVD stores, etc.). Two core themes emerged in qualitative coding for schooling opportunity, which include institutional removal and student-teacher interactions. Also, three subcodes emerged out of the student-teacher interactions theme: (1) lack of academic preparation, (2) lack of cultural competency, and (3) home/neighborhood conditions related to schooling experiences. Further, two subcodes emerged for the core theme employment: (1) neighborhood isolation and (2) employment after incarceration.

The Doors of the Church are Now Open: Black Clergy, Collective Efficacy, and Neighborhood Violence

By Kashea Pegram, Rod Brunson and Anthony Braga

In City & Community, September 2016, Volume 15, Issue 3, p. 289-314


Prior research has documented the historical significance of the black church beyond serving parishioners' religious and spiritual needs. Specifically, several black churches are involved in community organizing, social service activities, and political action. Scholars, however, have paid less attention to its role as a potent social institution in community crime control and prevention efforts. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 30 members of Boston's Ten Point Coalition of activist black clergy to document the motivations for and mechanisms through which ministers became involved in efforts to reduce street violence, the varied methods through which ministers develop strategic coalitions and manage violence reduction initiatives, and the ways ministers address the complex challenges involved in doing this work. Study findings suggest that black churches can serve as sources of collective efficacy that can help mobilize other churches, community organizations, police departments, and neighborhood residents in a coordinated effort to address urban youth violence.

School Suspensions and Adverse Experiences in Adulthood

By Kerrin Wolf and Aaron Kupchik

In JQ: Justice Quarterly, April 2017, Volume 34, Issue 3, p. 407-430


The “school-to-prison pipeline” and the negative effects of suspensions, expulsions and school arrests have received increasing national attention recently. Researchers have documented some of the potential harms of these exclusionary school discipline practices for students, including academic difficulties, increased misconduct, and future justice system contact. However, these investigations have been somewhat limited in scope, as they tend to focus only on students’ academic outcomes and juvenile justice system involvement. In this paper we seek to expand upon prior studies by considering how school suspensions may affect youth in peripheral and long-lasting ways. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health, we analyze whether being suspended from school relates to the likelihood of students experiencing a number of adverse events and outcomes when they are adults. We find that being suspended increases the likelihood that a student will experience criminal victimization, criminal involvement, and incarceration years later, as adults.