Steven F. Messner

Scholar of violent crime, homicide, and crime in China

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Steven F. Messner

Distinguished Teaching Professor
College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Sociology

Homicide; violent crime; crime in China

Campus phone: (518) 442-4674
Campus email: [email protected]


Distinguished Teaching Professor Steven F. Messner examines crime and deviance. His research has focused primarily on the relationship between social organization and crime, with a particular emphasis on criminal homicide. He has also studied the spatial patterning of violent crime, crime in China, and the situational dynamics of violence.

Recent projects include:

  • Theorizing Social Institutions and Crime -- This research focuses on developing an institutional perspective for understanding the causes of crime. It elaborates and expands arguments originally proposed as part of "intuitional-anomie theory."
  • Crime and Social Control in Contemporary China -- These research initiatives adapt and modify theories and analytic frameworks developed in the West to the distinctive socio-cultural setting of contemporary China. Specific topics include the relationships between various dimensions of social integration and violence, and the role of residents' committees in controlling disorder in urban neighborhoods.
  • Community Context and Criminal Offending -- This research considers the importance of considering "persons in context" for understanding criminal offending. Specific topics include the ways in which neighborhood disadvantage conditions the effects of gender and peer groups on participation in violence.
  • Spatial Analyses of Crime in Germany -- This research uses the techniques of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and spatial regression modeling to analyze violent crime rates across districts in Germany. The analyses examine spatial clustering of violent crime rates and the correlates of these rates, as well as the varying effects of covariates across regions.

Messner received his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and his master's degree and doctorate in sociology from Princeton University. He has taught at Columbia University and Nankai University (China).