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Contesting perspectives : reading women’s public fear through three interpretive approaches Paravantes, Andrew James


The academic and political interest in women's fear of crime (or "public fear") first emerged during the inauguration of national crime surveys in the 1970s. Originally investigators conceived of public fear as a "quality of life" issue; later, feminist researchers and activists situated public fear within. larger structural analyses of women's political and social oppression. This thesis has three projects. Firstly, prior empirical research and current theoretical debates are broadly organized into two perspectives. These I label the vulnerability- perspective and thevictimization perspective. Secondly, descriptive and multivariate statistical analyses (factor analysis, and logistic and ordinary least squares regression models) are employed to test the strength of three causal relationships central to the victimization perspective. I find little empirical support for these hypotheses. Finally, I outline an alternative perspective to better explain women's public fear. This approach argues that public fear, experiences of male violence, and use of public space are all expressions, and determinants, of women's performance of gender.

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