Crime in Their Midst: A Thematic Analysis of a Crime Committed in an Orthodox Jewish Community and its Impact on Community Members




Benchimol, Guila

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University of Guelph


Much is unknown about insular communities as they are often closed and guarded. This is especially so when it comes to crimes committed in their midst. Online forums geared to community members can reveal the discussions they have following a crime and the thoughts and feelings of the group. Using a functionalist approach, this study fills a gap in the literature on crimes committed in insular communities by and against community members by asking: what topics of discussion arose for Orthodox Jewish community members following a crime in their midst and were community members united or divided in their discussions? More explicitly, the sociological importance of what they discussed and how this affected community cohesion was examined. To address these questions, the comments following articles about a murder committed in an Orthodox Jewish community in New York on two Orthodox Jewish news websites (Yeshiva World News and Vos Iz Neias) were examined. Qualitative thematic analysis was used to examine how community members reacted to the murder through the discussions they had and whether these discussions affected and reflected community cohesion. Implications for better understanding crime in insular communities are discussed, as are directions for future research.



Orthodox Jews, religion, functionalism, Durkheim, Erikson, crime, deviance, insider research, Internet data, qualitative analysis, mechanical societies, insular groups, social control, Nvivo