U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Violent Crime (and Suicide) in Imperial Germany, 1883-1902: Quantitative Analyses and a Durkheimian Interpretation

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2010 Pages: 5-34
Helmut Thome
Date Published
March 2010
30 pages
The primary goal of this article is to bridge the gap between historical analyses and macrosociological theories that seek to explain rates of violent crime that change over time and across countries.
The article seeks to bridge the gap between the history and the sociology of violent crime and to contribute to the ongoing debate on the relationship between modernization and (criminal) violence. In particular, it demonstrates the usefulness of a theoretical perspective derived from Durkheim's work. Durkheim's thesis that the erosion of (traditional) collectivism leads to a significant reduction in violent crime is being tested and confirmed in an empirical analysis of crime data that originally were collected for some 1,000 counties and cities of the German Reich in late 19th century. The distinction between developmental and structural effects is crucial to the argument. Supportive evidence is provided by an additional analysis of suicide data. It is argued that Durkheim's perspective also helps explain the more recent increase in violent crime during the second half of the 20th century. For this purpose, the distinction between collectivism and individualism needs to be supplemented by a modified version of Durkheim's additional distinction of moral (cooperative) versus egoistic (disintegrative) individualism. Tables, figure, notes, and references (Published Abstract)