Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fear of Crime

In my book, Governing through Crime, I argued that over the last 4 decades of the 20th century American governments and citizens placed violent crime at the center of their fears and efforts to control risk for reasons largely unique to the US. Both federalism and the division of powers make governing hard in America and give lots of power to engaged minorities.

Now that fear of crime that seemed so distinctively America in the 20th century, seems to be spreading to other societies. Two stories in today's New York Times profiled the increasing salience of precaution against violent crime to ordinary citizen consumers in Japan and South Africa. In Japan, in the absence of much evidence that crime is really going up, designers offer women's clothing design to allow wearers to suddenly appear as if a vending machine. In South Africa, where violent gun point robberies and kidnapping have grown alarmingly common, a popular reggae star is shot to death in apparent carjacking, as he drops of his 15 year old son at the home of his brother.

What is causing so much fear of crime in Japan? American TV shows?

What is causing so much real violence in SA?

What alternatives are there to growing demands on both governments that they address violent crime?

6 comments:

Glen Graham said...

From the new gallup poll - shows American's fear of crime has increased despite crime statistics showing lower crime rates.
See:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/102262/Perceptions-Crime-Problem-Remain-Curiously-Negative.aspx

"Americans’ pessimism about crime may reflect an overly negative interpretation on their part of the fact that the decline in crime has tapered off. It could possibly reflect a real increase in media attention to crime on the local and national news. Or it could reflect Americans’ broader dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the country, a sentiment that extends from ratings of President Bush and Congress to the economy, as well as to their satisfaction with the direction of the country more generally."

Glen Graham said...

There is a saying in the new business: "if it bleeds, it leads."

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