The Long-term Impacts of 'Thatcherism': Crime, Politics and Inequality
Time series project start date: October 2013
Time series project end date: December 2015
Time Series Funding awarded by the ESRC: £324,000
Cohort studies project start date: April 2017
Cohort studies project end date: March 2020
Cohort Studies Funding awarded by the ESRC: £611,000
In what ways do changes in economic and social policies result in changes in patterns of crime, victimisation and anxieties about crime? How do shifts in social values affect national-level experiences and beliefs about crime and appropriate responses to it (such as support for punitive punishments like the death penalty)? What have been the long-term consequences of almost two decades (1979-1997) of neo-conservative and neo-liberal social and economic policies for the UK’s criminal justice system and the general experience of crime amongst its citizens? How have these unfolded spatially? Similarly, how do changes in the crime rates affect the sorts of social and economic policies pursued? What lessons does the recent past offer us today, when policy announcements about further cuts to public expenditure are commonplace and economic growth uncertain and faltering?
Using the Thatcher and Major governments (1979-1997) as our case study, our aim is to explore the experiences of crime, victimisation and fear of crime at the national and regional levels, and for key socio-demographic groups, since the 1970s (and where possible earlier than this). Recent publications have demonstrated the appropriateness of the general methodology (Farrall and Jennings 2012; Jennings et al 2012) and two theoretical papers (see Hay and Farrall, 2011; Farrall and Hay 2010) have outlined our thinking with regards to the ways in which ‘Thatcherite’ social and economic policies in one policy domain (e.g. housing) created ‘spill-over’ effects in other policy domains (such as crime). See Farrall and Hay 2014 for further reading.
a) Using national-level, repeated cross-sectional data and individual logitudinal data, we aim to understand the long-term trajectory of crime rates alongside relevant political, social and economic developments and interventions (paying attention to both neo-liberal and neo-conservative strands of thinking, Hay, 1996, Farrall and Hay 2014),
b) to develop an approach to making long-term assessments of dramatic and sweeping policy changes which could be adopted by other researchers, and
c) explore the life-course of 'Thatcher's Children'.
Our project, which is interdisciplinary in nature, will chart such trends generally as well as exploring the impact of the growing existence and tolerance of economic inequalities since the 1970s on a range of key processes related to crime (such as unemployment or growing levels of economic inequality). In this way we will be able to throw light on to the long term impact of shifts in social and economic policies on experiences of crime and associated phenomena. Such an examination will be crucial in a wider understanding of what (might) happen when one dramatically breaks with a previous political consensus (in this case, Keynesianism) and embraces a new, radically different one (in this case thinking inspired by ‘New Right’ political philosophies).
Part of our impact strategy includes the production of a 40 minute film in a modern history style which outlines our findings. Another film will be made for use as a teaching resource.
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