Abstract

Studying the fear of crime is a research field that has grown enormously in the past two decades. Yet our empirical knowledge has grown at the expense of conceptual development. It is beginning to be suspected that "fear" is a term encompassing a confusing variety of feelings, perspectives, risk-estimations, and which thus means different things to different people. It is additionally suggested that what we know empirically may well be largely an artefact of the fact that the questions that are put repeatedly to respondents seldom vary, and the ways that those questions are put, and the settings in which they are put seldom change. The research project which is in part reported here initially used one set of respondents to develop new questions relating to their general and specific feelings about criminal victimisation, before testing them on another, much larger sample. This latter exercise confirmed that being "angry" about the threat of criminal victimisation is more frequently reported than being "afraid" of it. Little is known of the meaning or range of meanings that respondents infer with the term "anger", but further research - which is needed - might well show that anger about crime is as complicated a concept as fear of crime has transpired to be. In any event, research into anger should benefit from the lessons learnt from three decades of research into fear.

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