In a new video, a Yale sociologist shows how relationships spread risk.

What if you could predict your chances of being shot from your social network: who you know and how you know them? Turns out, maybe you can.

The Cornell Square Park shooting September 19, in which two men wounded 13 by firing indiscriminately into a public park, has added new urgency to the discussion about violent crime in Chicago. It's no secret that some parts of the city are much safer than others. As Noah Berlatsky pointed out last week, there's a strong racial and socioeconomic component to the geography of violent crime in Chicago. Those living on the city's South Side, where the shooting took place, face some of the highest violent crime and murder rates in the nation without, counterintuitively, any nearby hospital trauma unit to deal with the effects. At the same time, for those worried about being the victim of a violent crime, it's not as simple as some neighborhoods being "safe" and others being "unsafe."

Watch this video below, produced by NowThis News: Yale's Andrew Papachristos points out that, in the West Side of Chicago, almost all the residents share the "risk factors" for getting caught up in violent crime, and yet "most of the people in those communities don't get shot." The secret to understanding how violent crime spreads, he says, may lie in social network analysis (an idea also explored in The Atlantic's October issue). The analogy that will stay with you comes when Papachristos compares violence to a specifically bloodborne pathogen: You can't catch it from just anyone, he argues. Your relationship with the people involved matters.

Top image: Milos Dizajn/Shutterstock; Jose Luis Gonzales/Reuters

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    What Happens When a City Tries to End Traffic Deaths

    Several years into a ten-year “Vision Zero” target, some cities that took on a radical safety challenge are seeing traffic fatalities go up.

  2. photo: Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar
    Equity

    What a Trillion-Dollar Housing Pledge Looks Like

    Representative Ilhan Omar’s Homes for All Act would fund the construction of 12 million new homes in the U.S. over 10 years, mostly as public housing.  

  3. Life

    Talent May Be Shifting Away From Superstar Cities

    According to a new analysis, places away from the coasts in the Sunbelt and West are pulling ahead when it comes to attracting talented workers.

  4. photo: a WeWork office
    Equity

    For Many WeWork Employees, the Job Is About to Change

    The co-working giant is letting 2,400 employees go and outsourcing 1,000 cleaning and facilities jobs as part of a company-wide belt-tightening.

  5. photo: A Starship Technologies commercial delivery robot navigates a sidewalk.
    POV

    My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot

    A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.

×