Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Chang, Dae H.||Cavan, Ruth Shonle, 1896-1993

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Homicide--Rockford; Rockford (Ill.)


The present study has attempted to analyze forty-two occurrences of criminal homicide in the city of Rockford, Illinois, between January 1, 1947 and January 31, 1969. The primary source of data was the records of the Rockford Police Department. Answers were sought to various questions concerning the nature of the homicide act with respect to the following variables: (a) temporal characteristics, (b) victim-offender relationships, (c) weapons used in homicide, (d) spatial characteristics, and (e) the relationship between homicide and alcohol. These findings were then compared to previous conclusions reached by Wolfgang and Pokorny who studied homicide in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas respectively. In addition, the present study analyzed the community structure of those areas of the city where homicide occurred most often in order to reveal any similarities in various socio-economic characteristics. The present study also introduced a role perception theory in order to explain homicide while at the same time incorporating individual factors and environmental factors of causation. In order to explain homicide in this paradigm, an eclectic frame of reference approach was employed, stemming from the already developed concepts of: (a) anomie theory, (b) Parsonian social action theory, and (c) the concept of intolerance-tolerance to ambiguity. Homicide is viewed as a means of bringing the interactional system between the assailant and potential victim back into equilibrium. The disequilibriated state of affairs is produced by the denial of reciprocal need gratification, and the intolerant individual terminates the conflict through homicidal aggression. It was found that there are definite relationships in acts of felonious homicide. The present data indicates that homicide in the city of Rockford is most likely to occur during the month of March, on a Saturday or Sunday, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Homicides are also characterized as intra-racial, intrafamily, and occur within a relatively short distance from home, in the most socially disorganized areas of the city. The average murderer in Rockford is a white male, between the ages of 25 and 29 years, who had been drinking. The killer usually murders an acquaintance or his spouse with a shooting weapon in the course of an argument. The victim in criminal homicide is typically a white female, between the ages of 25 and 29 years old, who had not been drinking. The victim is most often shot to death by the action of her spouse in her own home during an argument. Suggestions were given for further research on the phenomena of criminal homicide in light of the present role perception theoretical perspective. The study of criminal homicide is only one area in the larger study of human behavior, but its importance rests in the fact that, the unlawful killing of another is the most serious form of violation of collective behavior and group living. To this end, research in criminal homicide must generate empirically valid conclusions in order to close the ever-widening gap between theory and fact.


Includes bibliographical references.


viii, 114 pages




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