Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Johanna Schönhöfer

Retroactive Effects of Crime Control and Prevention on Social Solidarity: A cross-national Study of Europe

Photo of Johanna Schönhöfer

As crime rates decrease in many European countries, fear of crime and punitive sentiments remain at high levels. These developments are to be observed in an environment of increasing and wide-ranging measures of crime control, prevention and surveillance across Europe. It is this seeming paradox that has raised questions about the counter-productive or retroactive impact of these measures on security and justice , as they do not alleviate such fears and penal sentiments. They can be seen as information about how others cannot be trusted, and the level of insecurity in society.

This raises questions as to the divisions within society and dividing lines that are widened rather than decreased through such measures that visibly discriminate between different groups as e.g. in stop and search policing. Thus, it can be argued that contemporary crime prevention and penal sanctions diminish the pool of solidarity in contemporary societies rather than increase and confirm it.

Retroactive effects of crime control and social solidarity have rarely been explored and tested. Even though already Durkheim and recently Garland proposed a theoretical framework for retroactive effects of punishment on society, there is a lack of criminological research exploring solidarity as endogenous variable in general and the effects of crime control on solidarity in particular.

The PhD project will make an empirically founded contribution to theoretical and conceptual questions in the analysis of crime control and punishment in contemporary societies. Its aim is to help understand why measures of crime control might have a counter-productive impact on security and justice.

My research will be based on the analysis of large pooled secondary data sets. I will use multi-level hierarchical modelling techniques and pooled time-series and cross-sectional modelling techniques to address and analyse the relationship between micro-level indicators and macro-level effects, and their dynamic interactions.

Further Research Interests

  • Comparative Criminology and Sociology
  • Quantitative Methods and Statistics
  • Social Reactions to Deviant Behaviour
  • Securitization
  • Interpersonal Trust


I joined the University of Leeds in October 2013 after studying for a Diplom (MA) in Sociology, Research Methods & Statistics (2011 University of Bamberg), and MA International Criminology (2013 University of Hamburg).

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