Explaining gang homicides in Newark, New Jersey: Collective behavior or social disorganization?

Jesenia M. Pizarro, Jean Marie McGloin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Although numerous studies examined the distinction between gang and non-gang homicides, there is nonetheless a continued need for research in this domain. Specifically, few studies investigated the etiological differences between these homicides at the multivariate level or attempted to examine the relative robustness of the primary explanations of gang homicides-social disorganization and Decker's (1996) collective behavior hypothesis of gang violence. This article therefore addresses this void by focusing on gang-related homicides in Newark, New Jersey over a sixty-six month period. The findings of this study suggested that there were significant differences between gang and non-gang homicides at the incident level. At the multivariate level, the authors found that homicides precipitated by the operationalization of Decker's (1996) escalation hypothesis were more likely to be gang-related. Conversely, the social disorganization measure did not predict gang homicide, while poverty was a significant predictor. When measures of both potential explanations were entered into the same model only the micro-level escalation hypothesis retained its significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-207
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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