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Nations Not Obsessed With Crime

NCJ Number
F Adler
Date Published
213 pages
This study of 10 nations around the world seeks explanations for why some societies are less preoccupied with and exhibit less fear of crime than do Americans.
It examines five pairs of countries representing different regions of the globe and a broad spectrum of socioeconomic and politicocultural systems: Western Europe, European socialist countries, Latin America, Islamic countries, and Asia and the Pacific. Specifically, the countries under study are Switzerland and Ireland, Bulgaria and the German Democratic Republic, Costa Rica and Peru, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, and Japan and Nepal. The basic data used for six of the countries were arrest rates for a limited number of offenses reported to the United Nations in a 1975-76 survey of member nations; three other countries supplied statistical data; only Nepal could provide no quantitative information and other data sources were used. Conditions in each of the countries are described in terms of informal social controls as well as the structured criminal justice system. Despite their differences, all 10 low-crime countries appear to have in common a certain success in maintaining or creating effective social control agencies -the family plus one or several other control mechanisms that assist in maintaining, preserving, and transmitting shared values. The analysis of the effectiveness of the social control systems concludes that social solidarity is the essential feature of the society in countries with low crime rates. In contrast to social anomie and disharmony, this condition is deemed 'synnomie.' In a synnomic society, there is a sharing of values with optimum tolerance for the diverging values of subcultures and individuals. Footnotes and tabular data are provided. The appendix contains additional data. Over 300 items are listed in the bibliography.


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