skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 160568 Find in a Library
Title: Social Construction of Crime Problems: Insiders and the Use of Official Statistics
Journal: Journal of Crime and Justice  Volume:18  Issue:2  Dated:(1995)  Pages:17-30
Author(s): H H Brownstein
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 14
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper presents examples of cases that show how government-based political insiders use crime statistics to encourage the diversion of resources to favored programs and to provide support for favored policies.
Abstract: The problem of crime is a social construction, and official statistics are used in this process. Statistics can be used to support claims about new social problems or to support claims about established social problems. Best has suggested that outsiders to the policymaking process are more likely to be concerned with the construction of new social problems, and insiders are more likely to be concerned with "new wrinkles" in established problems. This paper uses examples from criminal justice to show how political insiders use statistics to make claims about established social problems. Specifically, they show how government-based insiders use statistics to support a political agenda. In none of the cases discussed do the insider claims-makers use official statistics to try to construct a new social problem. Rather, claims are made that can be used to make decisions about the allocation or redistribution of resources among established programs. Similarly, claims are made to support decisions made in defense of established policy. Should an issue from outside of an insider's domain gain public support as a social problem, claims would be made to shift public resources to those new problems. In a world of limited resources, that would mean that public resources would be diverted from established social problems; however, to maintain their access to and control of the public wealth over time, insiders need at least to appear that they are working to improve social conditions. Their involvement in the process of addressing newly constructed social problems, however, is limited to the fine-tuning of established problems. 52 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime control policies; Political influences; Research uses in policymaking
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=160568

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.