Fear and Crime in Latin America: Redefining State-Society Relations

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Routledge, Oct 2, 2012 - Political Science - 180 pages

The feeling of insecurity is a little known phenomenon that has been only partially explored by social sciences. However, it has a deep social, cultural and economic impact and may even contribute to define the very structures of the state. In Latin America, fear of crime has become an important stumbling block in the region’s process of democratization. After long spells of dictatorships and civil wars, violence in the region was supposed to be under control yet crime rates have continued to skyrocket and citizens remain fearful. This analytical puzzle has troubled researchers and to date there is no publication which explores this problem.

Based on a wealth of cutting edge qualitative and quantitative research, Lucía Dammert proposes a unique theoretical perspective which includes a sociological, criminological and political analysis to understand fear of crime. She describes its linkages to issues such as urban segregation, social attitudes, institutional trust, public policies and authoritarian discourses in Chile’s recent past. Looking beyond Chile, Dammert also includes a regional comparative perspective allowing readers to understand the complex elements underpinning this situation.

Fear and Crime in Latin America challenges many assumptions and opens an opportunity to discuss an issue that affects everyone with key societal and personal costs. As crime rates increase and states become even more fragile, fear of crime as a social problem will continue to have an important impact in Latin America.


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1 Democracy Modernity and Fear in Contemporary Chile
2 Fear as a Category for Analysis
3 Violence and Crime
4 The Government of Security 19702010
Segregation and DaytoDay Fear
6 Trust Insecurity and Authoritarianism
7 Is Chile a Unique Case? Insecurity Conditions in Latin America
8 Final Words

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About the author (2012)

Lucía Dammert is Executive Director of the Global Consortium on Security Transformation (GCST). From 2001 to 2004 she was Research Coordinator of the area 'Civil Society and Security' at the Center of Citizen Security Studies, University of Chile, and served as Co-director of the project 'Police Reform and Public Security in the Americas', based at Georgetown University, from 2002 to 2004. In Chile she is Adviser to the Under-Secretary of the Interior on public security issues.

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