Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology/Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Randy Gainey

Committee Member

Ruth Triplett

Committee Member

Mica Deckard

Committee Member

Thomas R. Allen


A growing body of research points out that communities in the most need of assistance are often the ones established by racially biased processes and have not been invested in for generations – with little to no attention ever positively directed toward these spaces. Instead, because of policies and tactics used to label areas as problematic and divest from them, public actors are reluctant to consider the lived-lives, both good and bad, of the residents of these communities when discussing needed changes. Criminologists have long been interested in neighborhood change and its relationship with crime. There has also been theoretical and political interest in the notion that gentrification of an area may reduce crime rates. However, tests of these ideas have produced mixed empirical support due to issues with conceptualization, measurement, and study design. This dissertation explores a reconceptualization and measurement of gentrification, adding elements of “third places” and demolitions to standard measures (e.g., census measures) found in the literature. This work employs hierarchical linear modeling to analyze data over time, providing a systematic analysis of the relationship between gentrification and crime in Norfolk, VA, from 2016 – 2019. By linking these empirical analyses with theoretical and historical context, this study advocates for better community research focused on the interplay of history, social context, systematic empirical research, and generational effects that may play a role in the current neighborhood structure.