The Geometry of Fear; An Environmental perspective on Fear and the Perception of Crime

Resource type
Thesis type
((Thesis)/(Dissertation)) Ph.D.
Date created
Understanding fear of crime is the purpose of a significant body of research. Researchers studying the phenomenon span several disciplines including criminology, psychology, geography, architecture and sociology and with them they bring different theoretical perspectives. The goal of this dissertation is to join these perspectives into a composite meta-theoretical framework or theoretical matrix designed to enhance our understanding of research on fear of crime. The fear of crime matrix is tested through the analysis of a series of five community surveys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Past research reveals a recurrent theme of disorder, both physical and social, in explanations of fear of crime and perceptions of crime. But the type of disorder is scalable, ranging from proximal cues associated with specific encounters between people or defined micro locations through to general feelings of fear about areas, activity nodes, or major pathways and routes to and from these nodes. This multi-layer scalable component of fear of crime is a core part of the theoretical matrix. The analysis of five community surveys, all built on similar action research community surveys, provide support for the theoretical fear matrix. Comments by persons interviewed and their cognitive maps identified where they felt afraid and why. The results from the analysis are also compared to police calls for services. This linking of surveys to police incidents is a step towards developing a methodology that would make it possible to forecast or identify where there might be hotspots of fear in communities and where detailed surveys could be of value.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Brantingham, Patricia
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etd7173_VSpicer.pdf 3.46 MB