Cultural criminology

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Cultural criminology is and approach to considering the broader societal contexts of crime, crime prevention, and consequences of preventive measures. It is particularly critical of crime prevention by design.


Conversely to an overly technological approach to security, cultural criminology considers dynamic change, pluralism of values, and ethnic diversity.[1] Culture aspects in urban planning can for the most part be referred to the approach of cultural criminology.

For example, fear of crime can be read as being a cultural factor in the context of the change of the political culture of response to crime. Fear of crime formerly was attributed to localised and situational anxiety, but was later recognised to be a major social problem and characterised by contemporary culture.

In a similar vein as New Urbanism, cultural criminology entails a concept of vulnerability and resilience.

Security related aspects and benefits

Safety measures and security installations solely based on technological approaches can be ineffective if the cultural background of crime situations remain unconsidered. For example, youth criminology in schools is raising although technical solutions are implemented. Additional social and school programs might be required. Often, political response is required to ease the social tension (e.g. youth unemployment).

Approaches how to address it

  • Consider crime situation and cultural/social backgrounds;
  • Find planning solutions for socially disadvantaged (new/other recreation areas, social facilities etc.);
  • Integrate socially disadvantaged into public places;
  • Avoid exclusion of certain groups.

Related subjects

Footnotes and references

  1. Garland D.: The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001.