The Social Organization of Sexual Assault

Shamus Khan, Joss Greene, Claude Ann Mellins, Jennifer S. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this review, we provide an overview of the literature on sexual assault. First, we define sexual assault, noting its multiple dimensions and the consequences for operationalization-including reviewing strategies for such operationalization. Second, we outline different approaches to sexual assault, critically assessing those frameworks that rely upon a model of sociopathy; instead, we propose focusing on more sociological and ecological understandings that push beyond the single dimension of gender and the framework of gender and power. Third, we outline the range of data sources that have been used to generate insights into sexual assault. Fourth, we provide the core research findings of the field, which at times are contradictory, mapping them to our ecological model of individual, relational, organizational, and cultural levels. We then review the evidence around those interventions that have been successful in addressing sexual assault (and those that have been unsuccessful) before concluding with suggestions for further research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Criminology
StatePublished - Jan 13 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


  • gender
  • gender-based violence
  • intersectionality
  • power
  • sexual assault


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