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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 161820 Find in a Library
Title: Gender, Class, and the Courts: Scandinavia (From Crime History and Histories of Crime: Studies in the Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern History, P 47-65, 1996, Clive Emsley and Louis A Knafla, eds. -- See NCJ-161818)
Author(s): E Osterberg
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Greenwood Publishing Group
Westport, CT 06881-5007
Sale Source: Greenwood Publishing Group
88 Post Road West
P.O. Box 5007
Westport, CT 06881-5007
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper provides an overview of research on the history of crime and criminal justice in Scandinavia, with attention to crime patterns and criminal justice actions with respect to the gender and class of offenders.
Abstract: One of the objectives of this paper is an analysis of long- term trends in different types of crime and any relation they might have to concepts such as civilization and modernization. A second objective is to review research on criminality from the perspective of gender and class. A third objective is to review the overall work and function of the courts in Scandinavia. Research on the history of criminality in Scandinavia shows a reduction in violence in the early modern period, thus contradicting the traditional image of the Middle Ages and the 16th century as a period of unrestrained aggression. This decline in violence was not attended by an increase in property crimes. An examination of gender issues in criminality in Scandinavia reveals a puzzling combination. On the one hand, women in the 17th century were persecuted as witches, and their extramarital sex was vigorously criminalized. On the other hand, they could act with full authority as plaintiffs in civil cases and as witnesses in criminal cases. This apparent contradiction may lie in the demographic and economic realities of the time. In Sweden, for example, there was a surplus of women due to the conscription of men. This gave women more responsible tasks in production. This may have led to a male reaction. Court records distinguish between the crimes of the propertied and unpropertied classes. Propertied groups typically appeared in court in connection with assault, offenses against official regulations, cases concerning property, and sometimes premarital sex and adultery. The unpropertied groups appeared in court primarily accused of assault, sexual offenses, and theft. There is no clear indication that the unpropertied offenders were treated more harshly than the propertied offenders. 64 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Class comparisons; Foreign criminal justice research; Foreign criminal justice systems; Gender issues; History of criminal justice; Male female offender comparisons; Scandinavia
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