Numerous studies find that violent offending is among the strongest determinants of violent victimization and vice-versa. Known as the victim-offender overlap, this association is evident in a wide variety of data sources and found using various methodologies. These findings raise an important question: Why are offending and victimization so strongly associated with one another? Researchers have increasingly sought to identify the sources of the overlap using theories of offending and victimization but so far, they have been unable to explain the phenomenon. Largely missing from this research is a consideration of how the victim-offender overlap might develop from the situational dynamics of interpersonal conflicts. This study draws on a social interactionist perspective to examine whether the disputes of offenders are different from the disputes of non-offenders, and whether those differences can explain why offenders have higher rates of violent victimization. Of particular interest is the variation in processes of dispute escalation. The analyses are based on original survey data collected from prison inmates and community members about their verbal and violent disputes. The results offer new theoretical and empirical insights regarding the situational basis of the victim-offender overlap.
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