Research

Research Interests

  • Crime, Deviance, and Social Control
  • Community and Urban Sociology
  • LGBTQ Community
  • Family and Life Course
  • Quantitative and Computational Methods

Overview

Broadly, my research interests lie in the sociological study of: community and crime, LGBTQ community, and family and life course. More specifically, I am interested in examining how social/community contexts influence individual and aggregate level behaviors. My main research focus is on how social disorganization and local institutions influence street crime. Methodologically, I mostly use quantitative methods to pursue my research questions. Moreover, I started to integrate qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and statistical analysis in my studies to perform a more nuanced analysis. I also have some experience in qualitative data analysis, with one project using content analysis.

Dissertation Research: The Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of Neighborhood Contexts of Crime

My dissertation research focuses on assessing the spatial-temporal dynamics of neighborhood contexts of crime. Doing so, my research aims to address the shortcomings in the current community and crime literature where we know little about how 24-hour cycle temporal mechanisms (e.g., daytime vs. night) and qualitative spatial mechanisms (e.g., residential vs. nonresidential neighborhoods) influence the relationship between social disorganization, local institutions, criminogenic places, routine activity, and crime. Previous community and crime studies emphasize the importance of social disorganization, local institutions, and criminogenic places. However, these studies have rarely considered how the time of day and qualitative differences in neighborhoods can better inform the mechanisms in which these neighborhood contextual factors influence crime, resulting in spatially and temporally static explanations. The lack of these considerations limits our understanding of the neighborhood contexts of crime since we know that crime occurrence is not constant across time and space. For example, it is possible that neighborhood structural conditions (such as concentrated poverty) theorized to influence social (dis)organization are only important for certain times of day (e.g., evening vs. daytime) because of temporal patterns of people’s routine activities that limit or facilitate the convergence of motivated offenders and suitable targets during certain time of day. Moreover, the effects of these structural conditions may differ across residential vs. nonresidential neighborhoods because of differential neighborhood dynamics as a result of complex configurations and the opportunity structures across time and space. Similarly, the effects of criminogenic places and crime-reducing local institutions may have time differentiated and area differentiated effects according to how these places and institutions are expected to influence the routine activity convergence of criminal opportunities as well as how they influence the social interactions and relations that may facilitate informal and formal social control. These potential differences in the effects of various aspects of neighborhood contexts deserve serious considerations to better test and extend on the predominant ecological theories of crime (routine activity, social disorganization, collective efficacy) and to understand more nuanced dynamics of neighborhood contexts. To examine a variety of contexts and further test the generalizability of temporally and spatially dynamic neighborhood contexts of crime, I compiled data for three neighboring municipalities with differential ecological contexts: Raleigh, Cary, and Durham in North Carolina. I analyze the data using multilevel regression analysis (census blocks nested within block groups) estimating models with time differentiated outcome variables to compare the effects of social disorganization and local institutions across residential and nonresidential neighborhoods. Moreover, since the adequacy of the conventional regression methods has been questioned in contexts where multiple interaction effects are operating simultaneously, I also integrate fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to look for more nuanced neighborhood configurations (i.e., combinations of multiple causal factors) that influence the prevalence of robberies. I am currently working on my dissertation with plans to defend by May 2019.

Neighborhood Contexts and Anti-LGBTQ Hate Crime

Website

In order to integrate my interests in both community and crime and LGBTQ community, I started a project to examine the neighborhood contexts that influence the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ hate crime with my colleague, Arianna Thomas-Winfield. While there are some studies on racially-motivated hate crime (e.g., Lyons 2008), neighborhood contexts of anti-LGBTQ hate crime are relatively unexplored. In order to fill this gap, we consider the application of social disorganization and routine activity theories to explain the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ hate crime. Using data from Seattle, Washington for 2013-2015, we use Poisson regression models and Fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to examine the neighborhood effects on anti-LGBTQ hate crime incidents in 57 neighborhoods defined by the Seattle Police Department. Poisson regression models suggest that both social disorganization and local institutions have additive effects on anti-LGBTQ hate crime. fsQCA results suggest the importance of considering the joint, combinatorial effects of social disorganization and local institutions on anti-LGBTQ hate crime. Overall, the results suggest that neighborhood contexts play roles in facilitating anti-LGBTQ hate crime.

An Ecological Model of Informal Social Control: Linking Family and Neighborhood Controls on Delinquency

In addition to aggregate level studies, I am also interested in examining neighborhood effects on individual behaviors. In this on-going project, I examine the joint effects of multiple contextual factors on violent delinquency. Although criminological literature recognizes the importance of both family and neighborhood informal social control mechanisms in reducing delinquency, prior research rarely examined whether these controls work together to curb delinquency. Drawing from criminological theories and previous empirical studies, I offer a theoretical discussion of the ecological model of informal social control that explicitly links family and neighborhood control mechanisms through a series of interaction hypotheses. I assess the theoretical model and hypotheses using individual-level and community contextual data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). The preliminary results suggest that both family and neighborhood control mechanisms have additive effects on violent delinquency. Moreover, I found partial support for the interaction effects between family and neighborhood controls.