Solidarity, Crime, and Punishment – A European Perspective Beyond Durkheim

This seminar is part of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies postgraduate research seminar series, where postgraduate students present their work and answer questions about it.

This is a free event but registration is required in advance. A light lunch will be provided.

Durkheimian theory suggests crime and punishment bring people together by reinforcing social order, cohesion, and solidarity. On the other hand, theory and research on the fear of crime argue crime constrains social interaction across social subgroups. Additionally, harsh punishment and cultures of control may contribute to the creation of criminal stereotypes. The latter processes decrease solidarity in society.

Cross-national explorations of the link between crime and social solidarity are scarce. The paper aims to address this gap by assessing how the collective experience of crime and punishment is associated with social solidarity – defined as the willingness to help other people – in 17 European countries.

Solidarity is assessed using survey data and information on welfare state activities.

Furthermore, the study takes a multi-dimensional approach to conceptualize the collective experience of crime:

  1. Indicators of crime such as homicide and assault rates;
  2. The strength of police forces and the private security sector; 
  3. The criminal justice system’s punitive reaction; 
  4. Politicians’ emphasis on law and order policies.

Using multilevel analysis the paper investigates how each of these four dimensions relates to social solidarity in European societies between 2000 and 2010.