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Keeping a Safe Distance: Individualism and the Less Punitive Public

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 190-208
Anna King
Date Published
March 2008
19 pages
This paper examines individual differences in punishment or ‘get tough’ attitudes towards lawbreakers by looking in depth at the nature of worldviews that have been identified as decidedly forgiving.
In summation, a forgiving or merciful worldview towards criminal offenders is associated with a highly individualistic orientation which keeps a safe distance from issues that do not directly affect one’s own life. This thought is reinforced by a distrust of authority that aligns sympathies with those who are subjected to its force. The focus of this research paper is on the way in which narrators who hold decidedly forgiving views towards punishment, crime, and offenders talk about their lives and experiences rather than on simply evaluating the objective realities of their lives. The result of this examination is hoped to be one that will help uncover ways of seeing the world that help maintain forgiving, merciful emotional stances towards offenders. Tables, references