Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Andrew V. Papachristos -- Rules of the Game: Dominance Hierarchies and the Creation of Gang Violence Networks in Chicago

Friday, April 9, 2010

12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street. RSVP to Ellen_White@brown.edu.

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"Rules of the Game: Dominance Hierarchies and the Creation of Gang Violence Networks in Chicago," with Andrew V. Papachristos, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The modern street gang exists in a social milieu where social status is determined by the manner in which individuals and groups handle violence and the threats thereof. Gang members frequently refer to street life—and the norms that guide it—as simply “the game.” Like other games, successfully participating in the street game demands adherence to certain rules, such as the willingness to violently redress a threat, the avoidance of “weak” behaviors, the protection of one’s friends, and so on. This paper combines ethnographic data and detailed police records to ascertain if the rules of the street game described by gang members in fact contribute to the relative social standing and perceived dominance of groups. Qualitative data are used to devise theoretically relevant rules of the street game and, then, exponential random graph models are used to test the relatively prevalence and importance of said rules on observable patterns of gang violence. Results suggest that while some of the rules of the game are indeed good predictors of observable patterns of violence, many of the prized norms of gang members have little empirical relation to group identity and status. 

The Brown Legal Studies Seminar (BLSS) is an interdisciplinary colloquium series, featuring cutting-edge research on law and legal institutions, from a wide range of vantage points across the social sciences and humanities. Sessions are open to the entire Brown community, but we particularly welcome faculty and graduate students, from all fields. BLSS is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Watson Institute for International Studies. Advance reading may be expected (see www.watsoninstitute.org/blss).


Location: Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street.  RSVP to Ellen_White@brown.edu.