Functional Fear and Public Insecurities About Crime

Posted: 15 Dec 2009 Last revised: 8 Mar 2013

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology

Emily Gray

University of Sheffield

Date Written: January 1, 2010

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Jonathan and Gray, Emily, Functional Fear and Public Insecurities About Crime (January 1, 2010). The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 50, Issue 1, pp. 1-22, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1521921 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azp059

Jonathan Jackson (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)

Emily Gray

University of Sheffield ( email )

Bartolome House
Winter Street
Sheffield, S3 7ND
United Kingdom
44 114 222 6832 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.shef.ac.uk/law/staff/academic/egray

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