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Storylines of Physical and Sexual Assault in Urban Nightlife: The Impact of Individual Disposition and Social Context

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2010
272 pages
Using storylines as an analytical framework, this study tested a hypothesis regarding factors in physical and sexual assaults that occur in urban nightlife venues (i.e., bars and nightclubs).

The study hypothesizes that outcomes such as physical and sexual assault in urban nightlife venues depend on three factors: a certain individual disposition that includes static personality characteristics influenced by one's background, as well as more transient characteristics such as emotional state and role identity; a social context or spatial location that is either conducive to or an impediment to criminal outcomes; and a confrontation or situation that arises in which an individual makes certain behavioral choices. Depending on the confluence of these three factors, the hypothesis proposes that some individuals will engage in crime, some will become victims, and other will either experience noncriminal outcomes or walk away from potentially dangerous situations. Empirical support for this thesis used multi-method ethnographic data to construct storylines about respondent experiences with physical and sexual assault, identity profiles that identify key dispositional or background facts, and contextual profiles that detail the organization and atmosphere of the social spaces in which their criminal and victimization experiences occurred. According to Agnew (2006), "storylines" refer to key events or conditions that increase the likelihood that certain individuals will engage in crime. This dissertation is a secondary analysis of a previous ethnographic study in which the current author served as the primary research assistant/co-investigator. The study used interview data to construct storylines of respondent's experiences with physical and sexual assault (both offending and victimization), and to construct identity profiles of 51 respondents in operationalizing key individual-level or "dispositional" variables that contributed to offending or victimization outcomes. 8 tables, 2 figures, and approximately 320 references

Date Published: January 1, 2010