The Civilization of Crime

Violence in Town and Country since the Middle Ages
Author: Edited by Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen
Paper – $32
Publication Date
Paperback: 10/07/1996
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About the Book

Along with most of the rest of Western culture, has crime itself become more "civilized"? This book exposes as myths the beliefs that society has become more violent than it has been in the past and that violence is more likely to occur in cities than in rural areas.

The product of years of study by scholars from North America and Europe, The Civilization of Crime shows that, however violent some large cities may be now, both rural and urban communities in Sweden, Holland, England, and other countries were far more violent during the late Middle Ages than any cities are today.

Contributors show that the dramatic change is due, in part, to the fact that violence was often tolerated or even accepted as a form of dispute settlement in village-dominated premodern society. Interpersonal violence declined in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as dispute resolution was taken over by courts and other state institutions and the church became increasingly intolerant of it.

The book also challenges a number of other historical-sociological theories, among them that contemporary organized crime is new, and addresses continuing debate about the meaning and usefulness of crime statistics.

CONTRIBUTORS: Esther Cohen, Herman Diederiks, Florike Egmond, Eric A. Johnson, Michele Mancino, Eric H. Monkkonen, Eva Österberg, James A. Sharpe, Pieter Spierenburg, Jan Sundin, Barbara Weinberger