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Andrew V. Papachristos

Professor of Sociology | Director of the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network (N3) Initiative

PhD, Sociology, University of Chicago, 2007

Sociologist Andrew V. Papachristos’ research aims to understand how the connected nature of cities—how their citizens, neighborhoods, and institutions are tied to one another—affect what we feel, think, and do. His main area of research applies network science to the study of gun violence, police misconduct, illegal gun markets, street gangs, and urban neighborhoods. He is also in the process of completing a manuscript on the evolution of black street gangs and politics in Chicago from the 1950s to the early 2000s. Papachristos is actively involved in policy-related research, including the evaluation of gun violence prevention programs in more than a dozen U.S. cities.

An author of more than 50 articles, Papachristos’ work has appeared in journals such as JAMA, The American Sociological Review, Criminology, and The American Journal of Public Health, and publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune have covered his work. Papachristos has received numerous awards, including the American Society of Criminology’s Ruth Cavan “Young Scholar” award and The National Science Foundation’s Early CAREER award. In 2019, Papachristos launched the Northwestern Neighborhood and Network Lab—or N3 Initiative—at IPR.

He is a Chicago native and earned his PhD from the University of Chicago.

Current Research

A Networked Approach to Gun Violence. A large part of Papachristos' research focuses on how gun violence is influenced by and gives shape to social and behavioral networks. This line of inquiry maintains that understanding who becomes a victim of gun violence requires analyzing not just individual or ecological risk factors, but also individuals’ social networks. His early research examined how networks among street gangs facilitate the social contagion of violence (American Journal of Sociology 2009; American Sociological Review 2013). Funding form the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation have allowed him to expand this research to consider individual victimization: Why particular people become victims of gun violence while others with similar sets of risk factors do not. Two key findings have emerged from this research. First, gun violence is more concentrated within social networks than within populations or places. For example, 70 percent of all gunshot injuries in Chicago occurred in networks containing less than 6 percent of the city’s population (Social Science & Medicine 2015; American Journal of Public Health 2014). Second, gunshot victimization diffuses through networks in a cascading fashion similar to an infectious disease, and network models offer a potential way to track the spread of victimization as it moves from person to person (e.g., JAMA Internal Medicine 2017). Additional lines of inquiry in this area are currently in various stages of analysis and production, including how such networks link geographic neighborhoods (American Journal of Sociology forthcoming).

The Capone Project. Papachristos is also involved in a historical study of organized crime in Prohibition-era Chicago. Prohibition marks a moment in U.S. history that fostered unprecedented integration of crime into legitimate society. To investigate the overlapping underworlds and upper worlds, Papachristos and Chris Smith of the University of California, Davis, created a relational database from archival materials that contains information on more than 14,000 social ties among more than 3,000 individuals, including gangsters as well as politicians, judges, cops, lawyers, wives, girlfriends, children, newspapermen, union bosses, fishing buddies, and hired help. A recent paper from this project examines how the overlap of networks provides a modicum of trust in a milieu where social institutions are poorly regulated and transactions carry murderous risks (American Sociological Review 2016).


Selected Publications

Wood, G., T. Tyler, and A.V. Papachristos. 2020. Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117(18): 9815-21.

Zhao, L., and A.V. Papachristos. 2020. Network position and police who shoot. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 687(1): 89-112.

Wood, G., D. Roithmayr, and A. V. Papachristos. 2019. The network structure of police misconductSocius 5: 2378023119879798.

Wood, G., and A. V. Papachristos. 2019. Reducing gunshot victimization in high-risk social networks through direct and spillover effectsNature Human Behaviour 10.1038/s41562-019-0688-1.

Papachristos, A. V., N. Brazil, and T. Cheng. 2018. Understanding the crime gap: Violence and inequality in an American CityCity & Community 17(4): 1051-74.

Green, B., T. Horel, and A. V. Papachristos. 2017. Modeling contagion through social networks to explain and predict gunshot violence in Chicago, 2006 to 2014JAMA Internal Medicine 177(3): 326–33.

Desmond, M., A. V. Papachristos, and D. Kirk. 2016. Police violence and citizen crime reporting in the black community. American Sociological Review 81(5): 857–76.

Papachristos, A. V., and D. Kirk. 2015. Changing the street dynamic. Criminology & Public Policy 14(3): 525–58.

Papachristos, A. V., C. Wildeman, and E. Roberto. 2015. Tragic, but not random: the social contagion of nonfatal gunshot injuries. Social Science & Medicine 125:139–150.

Papachristos, A. V., C. Smith, M. Scherer, and M. Fugiero. 2011. More coffee, less crime? The relationship between gentrification and neighborhood crime rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005. City & Community 10(3): 215–40. 

Papachristos, A. V. 2009. Murder by structure: Dominance relations and the social structure of gang homicide. American Journal of Sociology 115(1): 74–128.