Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Jeremy R. Porter

Committee Members

Joshua Freilich

Amy Adamczyk

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice


Victimization, South Korea, Ecological Theory, Social Disorganization Theory, Routine Activities/Lifestyle Theory, Theory Application


Theoretical approaches aimed at the understanding of population level criminal offending and victimization generally revolve around two major criminological theories: Social disorganization and routine activities/lifestyle theories. These theoretical frameworks were developed and have been examined extensively in a Western context (primarily in the U.S.) and provide evidence of both individual and aggregate indicators for the explanation of variations in crime. More recently, these approaches have been extended to the Eastern context as increasing numbers of studies have been conducted outside of the U.S. This application is relatively recent and the literature has yet to find conclusive supporting evidence for these ecological theories on crime due to the inconclusive and inconsistent results, which tend to vary by country. This dissertation contributes to this line of research by testing the applicability of these theoretical approaches to South Korea using 7 sets of data from the Korean Criminal Victimization Survey (KCVS) from 1993 to 2010.

The results provide evidence of the utility of these approaches in the context of South Korea with variation by level of analysis and year that can be explained by understanding the recent social/political history of South Korea. For instance, higher collective efficacy at the macro level was associated with lower victimization over all years in the study with the exception of the year after the national financial crisis in 1997. Also, high personal target suitability levels at the individual level were related to a high likelihood of personal victimization while the household guardianship indicator reduced household victimization. Additionally, sensitivity analysis helped to identify the proper time-lag associated with the effect of ecological variables on victimization. In sum, this dissertation found valuable evidence for ecological theories on crime and victimization associated with the cultural context of South Korea within a recent temporal perspective.