The Public's Sense of Justice in Sweden - a Smorgasbord of Opinions
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The public’s views on what constitute appropriate reactions to crime, have come to assume an increasingly central position in the crime policy rhetoric of western countries. In Sweden this manifests itself in recurrent referrals to the public’s sense of justice. Any clear definitions of what the public’s sense of justice is, how it is expressed and how it can be read are however absent from these referrals.
In this thesis the use of referrals to the public’s sense of justice as a legitimizing ground for penal legislation is problematized from an empirical perspective. Paper I points out the substantial variation found in the public’s view on what constitutes appropriate sentences. According to Paper II society’s reactions to crime are expected to fulfill different, and often contradictory, objectives simultaneously. Paper III also points to the assumption that views on what constitutes appropriate sentences are based on deliberations where different dimensions of society’s reaction are weighed against each other.
The public’s sense of justice, thus, consists of diverse, variable and complex opinions. Referrals to it as a legitimizing ground for changes in penal legislation becomes a matter of choice between whose and which opinion it is that should be emphasized. For this choice to be perceived as legitimate it should not be made without at the same time motivating it.
If crime policy is to be both knowledge-based and fitted to the public’s sense of justice the public must be given the opportunity to develop an informed and well-grounded sense of justice. Especially since, compared to other political matters, crime policy and its consequences are something that only a small portion of the public comes into direct contact with. The suggestion is that the public criminal policy debate is framed so that it matches the complexity of the public’s sense of justice itself.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Criminology, Stockholm University , 2013. , 56 p.
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 33
Public’s sense of justice, public opinion, appropriate sentences, penal legislation, Sweden, Scandinavia, surveys
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject Criminology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92901ISBN: 978-91-7447-736-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-92901DiVA: diva2:643158
2013-09-27, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Roberts, Julian V., Professor
Tham, Henrik, Professor emeritusEstrada, Felipe, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Accepted. Paper 3: Accepted.2013-09-052013-08-262015-03-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers