Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


The Application of Social Geometry Concerning the Administration of Justice in Cases of Assault

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Alfred DeMaris, Dr.

Second Advisor

Stephen Demuth, Dr. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Raymond Swisher, Dr. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Monica Longmore, Dr. (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Melissa Burek, Dr. (Committee Member)


Few studies have examined the influence of social status on adjudication practices involving assaults. Those that have suffer from a number of internal and external validity problems. As a result, we are left without an empirically testable framework to help explain if and how social stratification impacts legal decision making regarding assaults in the U.S. Black's theory of social geometry presents us with a paradigm that directly addresses the influence of stratification by way of a multi-dimensional approach. Specifically, it suggests that law reacts to the social position of the victim compared to that of the perpetrator awarding greater advantage to those that rank higher. This research suggests that its broad design lends itself for application in providing an empirically testable theory regarding legal behavior in respect to assault outcomes.