Kriminologiska institutionens avhandlingsserie nr. 23, 2007.

Abstract: The object of this project is to investigate people’s fear of crime. By means of three studies, the dissertation illustrates how the fear of crime is understood in Anglo-Saxon and Nordic research, by a group of interview subjects and also how this fear is depicted in Stockholm’s daily press.

In the research, fear of crime is viewed as an individual problem that is not linked to exposure to crime. Instead the fear is explained by reference to individual factors, situational factors and societal conditions. The views described in the research have changed over time, with inter alia an increasing number of groups being described as experiencing fear.

The interview study is based on 28 in-depth interviews with persons living in different areas of Stockholm. In summary, the interview subjects are not afraid of crime, and they say they do not think about crime in the course of their daily lives. They may perceive fear in certain situations, in specific locations and when faced with unknown people. These situations are characterised by a lack of control, which tends to be linked to the fear of crime. This fear also appears clearly to be influenced by the media.

In the press, the fear of crime is not only depicted in relation to public places, but also in the home and at the workplace. The absence of police is described as one of the reasons for this fear. It is also acceptable for men to express a fear of crime in the newspaper articles. The descriptions expressed in the interviews and in the press reflect some of the theories propounded on the risk society. Risk appears to be perceived as separate from fear. A reduction in crime would therefore be likely to lead to a reduction in the risk of exposure to crime, but not always in the fear of crime. This fear may instead probably be reduced by measures that increase people’s sense of control.


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