Discussion and Hypotheses for a Comprehensive Understanding of the 1960-1990 Crime Wave
ABSTRACT: First of all, this essay summarizes the evidence on the surge of violent crime that afflicted the West in the interval 1960-1990. It then reviews the principal explanations advanced by scholarship. And, finally, seals the discussion with a few new analytical elements. These elements are hereby introduced to assemble an interpretative synthesis of this episode.
Essentially, the main theories of the West’s recent “crime wave” feature a combination of economic and cultural causes. Some assign greater, if not exclusive weight to the former, while others privilege the latter. But there appears to have been no effort to nest both approaches into a comprehensive explanation of the period. This is thus what this essay proposes to achieve. It does so by construing the crime wave of 1960-1990 as a release of violent energy occasioned by an epochal/generational break. Within this framework, the intensity of such an energy release is viewed as depending on the joint condition of a community’s economic and political bodies (11 pp).
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