The Role of Violence in Street Crime: A Qualitative Study of Violent Offenders

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    Studies on the motivation for violent street crime, such as robbery and assault, have tended to draw on either the rational choice or the subcultural perspective. This study explores the extent to which violence on the street can be explained by rational factors associated with the successful commission of the offence or social factors related to street culture. The study is based on qualitative interviews with 55 violent street offenders who were serving sentences for street robbery and assault in six prisons in the United Kingdom. The findings, based on accounts of 101 incidents of street violence, identified four main explanations for street violence: (a) successful offence enactment, (b) buzz and excitement, (c) status and honor, and (d) informal justice. The article concludes that there might be benefits in combining the insights of both perspectives by generating an integrated theory that would properly explain both the rational and the seemingly irrational components of street violence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)617 - 633
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


    • street violence
    • robbery
    • assault
    • rational choice
    • culture


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