Wednesday Reading: Bar Violence
Barroom Aggression in Hoboken:
Don’t blame the bouncers!
“Relying on a structured observation guide listing a large number of variables shown to be good predictors of aggression in bars by past researchers, trained observers spent a total of 444 hours collecting data in 25 licensed drinking establishments in Hoboken, New Jersey. Observations took place at two separate time periods, 7:30pm–10:30pm and 11:00pm–2:00am, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Logistic regression analyses revealed the absence of bouncers and doormen as the strongest predictor of aggression in Hoboken barrooms. This is a particularly important finding considering the frequency with which bouncers and doormen are vilified in the available research on barroom aggression. Several practical prevention strategies aimed at reducing aggression in bars are proposed.”
The study drew many common sense conclusions, such as:
Bars with less “aggression” typically are nicer, have better climate control, less crowded, easy to navigate and are well maintained. Additionally, bars that don’t allow dancing and are considered more of a “watering hole” usually have fewer incidents. Overall, most incidents naturally took place later in the night than at the beginning.
Employees drinking = not a good sign
One statistic that struck me as an obvious factor in the likelihood of violent or aggressive incidents was whether both bouncers/doormen or bartenders themselves engaged in alcohol consumption – in which violent acts were much more likely to transpire.
But the study concluded that:
“The absence of security personnel was identified as the strongest predictor of aggression in Hoboken barrooms. Lack of security personnel closely parallels “lack of capable guardians” in Cohen and Felson’s well-known routine activities theory. According to Fox and Sobol, “The routine activities of the bar scene often put likely victims and motivated offenders in close proximity without adequate protection measures. Thus, the convergence of offenders, victims, and an absence of capable guardians appears to increase the chances of some bar patrons’ victimization.”
And at the same time said:
“While bouncers and doormen are in unique positions to significantly reduce aggression in bars, as they are recognized by many as being the primary agents of social control within barrooms, they are often blamed for encouraging and escalating such incidents.” (especially if they have been drinking!)
Based on your own personal observations, how do you think this study ranks? Can you offer up a more simple conclusion?