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Spithoven, Remco (2017). Keeping trouble at a safe distance: Unravelling the significance of ‘the fear of crime’. (Doctoral thesis, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.) The Hague, The Netherlands: Eleven International. ISBN 978-94-6236-783-8, E-book ISBN 978-94-6274-754-8.

Overview: The fear of crime is generally recognized as a social problem around the world. Yet, research has so far been unable to establish a dependable picture of this phenomenon. The present study examines the highly complex allocation of interacting perceptions, for which it provides suitable explanations through a social psychological approach. It aims to discover at what level of psychological distance citizens primarily experience ‘the fear of crime’ and how they construct it. The author applies various qualitative and quantitative techniques to conduct this research. For instance, historical discourse analysis, free associative interviewing, Structural Equation Modelling, and photo sorting via Q-methodology. The results show that citizens are determined to keep crime at a safe distance. Even to those who deem that crime is a significant factor in their immediate surroundings, ‘the fear of crime’ remains a distant and abstract social problem. Keeping trouble at a safe distance relates to the broad field of the social sciences, especially to the disciplines of criminology, sociology and social psychology.

Remco Spithoven <remco.spithoven@hu.nl> is in safety and security management studies at the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, and is a research fellow at the Faculty of Social Science, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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