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The Culture of Fear and Control in Costa Rica (I): Crime Statistics and Law Enforcement

  • Sebastian Huhn

    ()

    (GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies)

The Costa Rican talk of crime is fundamentally based on the assumption that crime rates have increased significantly in recent years and that there is today a vast and alarming amount of crime. On the basis of this assumption, fear of crime, the call for the “iron fist,” and drastic law enforcement actions are continually increasing. While crime statistics are the logical basis for the hypothesis on the far-reaching extent of delinquency, they are used in a problematic way in the talk of crime. In this paper I discuss Costa Rican crime statis-tics, their development, and their utilization in the talk of crime against the background of criminological theory. The theses of the paper are that a) the informative value of crime statistics regarding Costa Rican reality is far more questionable than the common utiliza-tion of them implies and b) when they are used as argumentation, these crime statistics do not provide evidence of the oft-proclaimed rising crime wave.

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Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 104.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:104
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  1. Sebastian Huhn, 2008. "Discourses on Violence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua: Social Perceptions in Everyday Life," GIGA Working Paper Series 81, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  2. Sebastian Huhn, 2009. "Contested Cornerstones of Nonviolent National Self-Perception in Costa Rica: A Historical Approach," GIGA Working Paper Series 101, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  3. Peter Peetz, 2008. "Discourses on Violence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua: Youth, Crime, and the Responses of the State," GIGA Working Paper Series 80, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  4. Sebastian Huhn, 2008. "A History of Nonviolence: Insecurity and the Normative Power of the Imagined in Costa Rica," GIGA Working Paper Series 84, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
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