Spring 2008 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, February 22, 2008

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112

Speaker: Professor Andrew Papachristos

Department of Sociology
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Biography: Andrew Papachristos received his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.  Dr. Papachristos' research uses social network analysis to examine:  (1) the social structures and group processes at the heart of interpersonal violence and delinquency; (2) issues of group dominance and reciprocity; and (3) the use of violence and honor as measures of social control.  His current research combines ethnographic and quantitative techniques to explain the network dynamics responsible for the social contagion of gang murder in Chicago over nearly two decades.  Dr. Papachristos is also currently involved in the evaluation of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program in Chicago and has just completed data collection on a four-neighborhood study of how illegal and pro-social networks of probationers and parolees  influence offending patterns, interpersonal violence, gun markets, and perceptions of neighborhood social order.  His research has appeared in Foreign Policy, Criminology and Public Policy, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and several edited books.

TITLE: Murder Markets: Group Dominance and the Social Contagion of Gang Homicide in Chicago
Abstract:  Gang murder spreads much like the diffusion of innovations in a market—gangs interpret and absorb information as they respond to the status perceptions of other actors in their local network environment. This paper argues that gang murder is best understood not by searching for its individual determinants but by examining the social networks of action and reaction that create it. Gang murder occurs through an epidemic-like process of social contagion as competing groups jockey for positions of dominance and address perceived threats to social status. I use a network approach and incident level homicide records to recreate and analyze the structure of gang murders in Chicago. The findings demonstrate that individual murders between gangs create an institutionalized network of group conflict, net of any individual’s participation or motive. Murders spread as gangs respond to threats by evaluating the highly visible actions of others in their network neighborhoods. Gangs must constantly (re)establish the social order through highly visible displays of solidarity which, in turn, merely strengthen these murder networks.
This series is organized by the UMASS Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Support for this series is provided by the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Finance and Operations Management, INFORMS, and the John F. Smith Memorial Fund.

For questions, please contact the INFORMS Student Chapter Speaker Series Coordinator, Ms. Trisha Woolley, twoolley@som.umass.edu