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The Social Organization of Self-Help: A Study of Defensive Weapon Ownership

Douglas A. Smith and Craig D. Uchida
American Sociological Review
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Feb., 1988), pp. 94-102
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095735
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Social Organization of Self-Help: A Study of Defensive Weapon Ownership
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Abstract

Using Donald Black's theory of self-help, and drawing on the collective security model and the "fear and loathing" hypothesis, this paper examines factors influencing defensive weapon ownership. Interview data from 9,021 randomly selected households in 59 residential neighborhoods are used to assess the association between household and neighborhood characteristics and decisions to purchase weapons for self-protection. Findings indicate that defensive weapon ownership varies inversely with other forms of social control, such as the perceived effectiveness of police. Additionally, purchases of defensive weapons are associated with household demographics, past victimization, and perceived risk of crime. Collectively, these results indicate that self-help (defensive weapon ownership) is a structured form of social action.

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