Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Program

Urban Studies


School of Urban and Regional Planning

Major Professor

Dr. Bethany Stich

Second Advisor

Dr. Pamela Jenkins

Third Advisor

Dr. David Gladstone

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Guang Tian


Relatively low rates of homicide solvability results in law-abiding citizens being forced to co-exist with known murderers, which is detrimental to a community’s psyche. This condition happens disproportionately in neighborhoods where crime is high, cohesiveness among its members is weak, and the citizen/police relationship is little or non-existent. This research sought to understand this phenomenon by asking,” How can murder solvability rates improve in marginalized communities?” and employing four theoretical lenses. Using the city of New Orleans as a case study and holding Social Disorganization Theory constant, Spiral of Silence, Habitus, and Dramaturgy were utilized in an attempt to understand individuals who witness violent crime but do not come forward. From these theories, nine assumptions were formed, connecting the literature to this specific area of inquiry. Using a mixed methods approach both qualitative and quantitative data was collected within New Orleans from a variety of instruments: a survey (both web-based and in-person), a questionnaire and two deliberative forums. Utilizing the questionnaire and in conjunction with the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forum Institute (NIFI), this research was also able to quantitatively compare New Orleans data with data collected nationally by NIFI. While the data collected support all nine assumptions, five of the nine account for 82% of the data. Of these five, none originated from the Spiral of Silence theory, two originated from the Habitus theory, and three originated from the Dramaturgy theory.


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