chapter  7
8 Pages

Breaking with the Past: Challenging Assumptions About Women and Violent Crime

ByDeborah R. Baskin, Ira B. Sommers

This chapter focuses on the role of structural dislocation, community context, and opportunity structure in shaping the life course. It explores how personal decisions related to participation in violent crimes are mediated by the women's experiences and understandings of their immediate environments. The analysis of the factors and developmental processes involved in female violent offending leads us to two important observations. First, the research has produced results that clearly challenge contemporary assumptions regarding female offending. The analysis suggests a complex relationship that serves as a caution against generic and gender-based generalizations that have been drawn from time-bound, aggregate-level data sets and from ethnographies of women's involvement in street hustling. Second, the aggregate-level data reaffirm the importance of social factors in accounting for violent career patterns. The results suggest that initiation into violent street crime for the 170 study women was strongly influenced by the neighborhood environment.