Functional Fear and Public Insecurities About Crime
London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology
University of Sheffield
January 1, 2010
The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 50, Issue 1, pp. 1-22, 2010
Fear of crime is widely seen as an unqualified social ill, yet might some level of emotional response comprise a natural defense against crime? Our methodology differentiates between a dysfunctional worry that erodes quality of life and a functional worry that motivates vigilance and routine precaution. A London-based survey shows that one-quarter of those individuals who said they were worried about crime also viewed their worry as something akin to a problem-solving activity: they took precautions; these precautions that made them feel safer; and neither the precautions nor the worries reduced the quality of their lives. Fear of crime can therefore be helpful as well as harmful: some people are both able and willing to convert their concerns into constructive action.
Keywords: fear of crime, emotion, resilience, neighborhood disorder
Date posted: December 15, 2009 ; Last revised: March 8, 2013