In Search of the Fear of Crime: Using Interdisciplinary Insights to Improve the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Everyday Insecurities
London School of Economics & Political Science: Department of Methodology
University of Sheffield
March 30, 2011
This was published as: Gray, E., Jackson, J. and Farrall, S. (2011). ‘In Search of the Fear of Crime: Using Interdisciplinary Insights to Improve the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Everyday Insecurities’, in Gadd, D., Karstedt, S. and Messner, S. (eds.), Sage Handbook of Criminological Researc
This chapter provides a critical overview of research on public insecurities about crime. Spanning several decades and continents, this body of work tends to focus on negative emotional responses (fear, worry or anxiety) to the threat of common crime categories (burglary, theft, assault). First, the chapter charts the emergence of the fear of crime from the policy-relevant victimisation surveys of the 1960s in America, to its transformation into a staple feature of government statistics and object of academic significance. Despite the topic's high status however, it has remained a slippery research subject with real methodological complexities at its core. We outline some important breakthroughs from feminist and 'left realist' scholars, and highlight advances using experience-based questions and the 'expressive' dimensions of public insecurities about crime. Recognising the value of interdisciplinary research, we review what criminologists studying the fear of crime might learn from the 'psychology of survey response', studies in 'everyday emotions', and the better use of quantitative techniques and longitudinal data to capture the multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of fear.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: fear of crime, insecurity, everyday emotions, quantitative research, qualitative research.
JEL Classification: K40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 6, 2011 ; Last revised: March 11, 2013
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