The assistant professor of sociology presented research on cross-national patterns in the justification of violence and "crimes of everyday life."
Rena Zito, assistant professor of sociology, presented a research talk titled "Cross-National Variation in Crime-Supportive Attitudes: A Multilevel Examination of Institutional Anomie Theory" at the Annual Meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 11, 2019. The presentation appeared as part of the "Patterns of Crime in Place and the Life Course" panel session.
Drawing on insights from institutional anomie theory, Zito's research used data collected from over 70,000 people living in 52 nations to examine the cultural and structural predictors of attitudes that justify the use of violence and "every-life crimes," like stealing, failing to pay taxes, and using services that haven't been paid for.
Employing a multilevel statistical approach to simultaneously investigate nation-level and individual-level variation in these crime-supportive attitudes, she found that (1) nations vary substantially in crime-supportive attitudes consistent with an institutional anomie perspective, (2) individuals within nations are especially likely to hold crime-supportive attitudes when they experience economic hardships within national contexts that emphasize cultural individualism and are marked by a high degree of economic inequality. Her study is a part of a burgeoning field within criminology that investigates the moral dimensions of crime from a cross-national perspective.