Fear and Crime in Latin America

Redefining State-Society Relations

By Lucía Dammert

© 2012 – Routledge

180 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138849020
pub: 2014-11-10
Hardback: 9780415522113
pub: 2012-05-16

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About the Book

The feeling of insecurity is a little known phenomenon that has been only partially explored by social sciences. However, it has a deep social, cultural and economic impact and may even contribute to define the very structures of the state. In Latin America, fear of crime has become an important stumbling block in the region’s process of democratization. After long spells of dictatorships and civil wars, violence in the region was supposed to be under control yet crime rates have continued to skyrocket and citizens remain fearful. This analytical puzzle has troubled researchers and to date there is no publication which explores this problem.

Based on a wealth of cutting edge qualitative and quantitative research, Lucía Dammert proposes a unique theoretical perspective which includes a sociological, criminological and political analysis to understand fear of crime. She describes its linkages to issues such as urban segregation, social attitudes, institutional trust, public policies and authoritarian discourses in Chile’s recent past. Looking beyond Chile, Dammert also includes a regional comparative perspective allowing readers to understand the complex elements underpinning this situation.

Fear and Crime in Latin America challenges many assumptions and opens an opportunity to discuss an issue that affects everyone with key societal and personal costs. As crime rates increase and states become even more fragile, fear of crime as a social problem will continue to have an important impact in Latin America.


"Varieties of crime, especially violent crime, top the policy agenda throughout most of Latin America and the Caribbean. An important research question is the ways in which crime generates fear in the citizenry and the types of personal, social, and political responses that fear provokes. These important linkages have not been sufficiently explored to date. Lucia Dammert, a leader in the new generation of Latin American scholars on citizen security, breaks new ground on these themes with a focus on Chile and the broader implications for the region."

—John Bailey, Professor of Political Science, Georgetown University

"Lucia Dammert, one of the best analysts working on citizen security, has written an extremely important book. Dammert is scrupulous in her research and sophisticated and imaginative in her thinking. Her interpretation of the Chilean case and broader insights about fear are illuminating. No issue has greater implications for social peace and democratic governance in Latin America."

—Michael Shifter, President, Inter-American Dialogue

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Democracy, Modernity and Fear in Contemporary Chile 2. Fear as a Category for Analysis 3. Violence, Crime and Policies: Background 4. Is Chile a Unique Case? Insecurity Conditions in Latin America 5. The City: Segregation and Day-to-Day Fear 6. Distrust, Insecurity and Authoritarianism 7. Conclusions

About the Author

Lucía Dammert is Executive Director of the Global Consortium on Security Transformation (GCST). From 2001 to 2004 she was Research Coordinator of the area 'Civil Society and Security' at the Center of Citizen Security Studies, University of Chile, and served as Co-director of the project 'Police Reform and Public Security in the Americas', based at Georgetown University, from 2002 to 2004. In Chile she is Adviser to the Under-Secretary of the Interior on public security issues.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Latin American Politics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Civil Rights
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Law Enforcement
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society