Thatcherism, Crime and the Legacy of the Social and Economic ‘Storms’ of the 1980s
24 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 2017
Using insights from the classical sociology of deviance and social structure (notably Durkheim and Merton) we explore the enduring impact of the social and economic changes which started in the UK in the early 1980s. In the two subsequent decades the UK went through a period of radical economic restructuring, leading to lasting social change. We seek to gauge the effect of these combined social and economic processes, which we label social and economic ‘storms’, at the national level. In so doing we assess, and ultimately defend, the heuristic utility of this conceptualisation, considering the extent to which such social and economic storms (individually and collectively) weakened bonds between individuals, within and between families, and across communities. We use proxy measures of economic and social changes in combination with recorded crime statistics to explore the degree to which such processes might be associated with victimisation rates. We find that crime was related to these macro‐level ‘storms’, although ultimately they were driven by economic variables. Our analyses show how political decision making can shape long‐term trends in crime rates.
Keywords: Thatcherism, crime trends, the New Right, anomie theory, politics and crime
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