Anxieties About Modernization, Concerns About Community, and Fear of Crime: Testing Two Related Models.

Helmut Hirtenlehner, Stephen Farrall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In contemporary European criminology, there is a growing understanding of the fear of crime as the consequence of, and a code for, broader social anxieties, the origins of which are usually traced to fundamental social and global transformation processes characteristic of late modernity. Within the large body of papers published on this topic, one can differentiate between two distinct perspectives: a generalized insecurity approach, according to which free-floating, amorphous anxieties about modernization are directly projected onto crime, and an expanded community concern approach, whereby abstract anxieties about social change require the prism of local conditions in order to convert into fear of crime. Here, these two perspectives are examined on the basis of survey data from Austria. The results provide support for both approaches, with slight advantages for the generalized insecurity model. We also demonstrate that large parts of the frequently reported association between concerns about incivility and fear of crime can be traced to their common roots in broader social anxieties. Questions are raised pertaining to the generalizability of the findings and a comparative research agenda is encouraged which acknowledges that pathways into fear of crime may differ from country to country, depending on the sociocultural and political-institutional makeup of a society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Criminal Justice Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • comparative criminology
  • fear of crime
  • insecurity

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