It's a War Out There: Contextualized Narratives of Violent Acts
Purpose: To examine how individuals operating in violent environments draw on cultural and personal narratives of place and self to make sense of routine preparations for violence. Methods: Data are based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 17 individuals involved in street crime and assaultive violence in St. Louis, Missouri. Participants had engaged in violence within the month prior to being interviewed. We used chain referral methods to identify and recruit them. Results: Participants portrayed their neighborhoods as warzones and themselves as people who succeed in these environments due to preparedness for violence and personal capacity for violence typified by street soldiers. They used this situated identity to explain preparations for violence including: readiness to see threats and respond quickly, selecting allies for fights, and arming themselves. Conclusions: The implications of our findings for the study of narrative criminology are discussed including how place and identity narratives facilitate an understanding of self in action that is both after-the-fact sense-making and crime conducive.
Journal of Criminal Justice
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Hochstetler, Copes, H., & Cherbonneau, M. (2017). It’s a War Out There: Contextualized Narratives of Violent Acts. Journal of Criminal Justice, 53, 74–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.06.005