• Moral Panics and Punctuated Equilibrium in Public Policy: An Analysis of the Criminal Justice Policy Agenda in Britain

      Jennings, Will; Farrall, Stephen; Gray, Emily; Hay, Colin; University of Sheffield (2017-12-22)
      How and when issues are elevated onto the political agenda is a perennial question in the study of public policy. This article considers how moral panics contribute to punctuated equilibrium in public policy by drawing together broader societal anxieties or fears and thereby precipitating or accelerating changes in the dominant set of issue frames. In so doing they create opportunities for policy entrepreneurs to disrupt the existing policy consensus. In a test of this theory, we assess the factors behind the rise of crime on the policy agenda in Britain between 1960 and 2010. We adopt an integrative mixed‐methods approach, drawing upon a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. This enables us to analyze the rise of crime as a policy problem, the breakdown of the political‐institutional consensus on crime, the moral panic that followed the murder of the toddler James Bulger in 1993, the emergence of new issue frames around crime and social/moral decay more broadly, and how—in combination—these contributed to an escalation of political rhetoric and action on crime, led by policy entrepreneurs in the Labour and Conservative parties.
    • Penal populism and the public thermostat: crime, public punitiveness, and public policy.

      Jennings, Will; Farrall, Stephen; Gray, Emily; Hay, Colin; University of Sheffield; Department of Politics & International Relations; University of Southampton; Centre for Criminological Research; University of Sheffield; Centre for Criminological Research; University of Sheffield; Sciences Po; Paris (Wiley, 2016-06-02)
      This article makes the case that feedback processes in democratic politics—between crime rates, public opinion, and public policy—can account for the growth of penal populism in Britain. It argues that the public recognize and respond to rising (and falling) levels of crime, and that in turn public support for being tough on crime is translated into patterns of imprisonment. This contributes to debates over the crime–opinion–policy connection, unpacking the dynamic processes by which these relationships unfold at the aggregate level. This uses the most extensive data set ever assembled on aggregate opinion on crime in Britain to construct a new over‐time measure of punitive attitudes. The analysis first tests the thermostatic responsiveness of punitive attitudes to changes in recorded crime rates as well as self‐reported victimization, and then examines the degree to which changes in mass opinion impact on criminal justice policy.
    • Political socialization, worry about crime and antisocial behaviour: an analysis of age, period and cohort effects.

      Gray, Emily; Grasso, Maria; Farrall, Stephen; Jennings, Will; Hay, Colin; University of Sheffield; Centre for Criminological Research, School of Law, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, UK; Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, Northumberland Road, Sheffield, UK; Centre for Criminological Research, School of Law, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, UK; Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton, UK; et al. (Oxford University Presss, 2018-08-07)
      Fear of crime occupies a substantial area of research and theorizing in criminology. Yet, it has not been examined within a longitudinal framework of political socialization. Using insights from generational modelling, we explore how political cohorts influence the fear of crime and perceptions of antisocial behaviour. This ‘age, period and cohort’ (APC) approach recognizes the distinct temporal processes of (1) individual ageing, (2) current contexts and (3) generational membership and is crucial to understanding the origins and shape of social change. We employ repeated cross-sectional data from the British Crime Survey in an APC analysis to explore how worry about crime and perceptions of antisocial behaviour were impacted by the sociopolitical environment in which respondents spent their ‘formative years’. Our results underline the theoretical significance of political socialization and the methodological consequence of longitudinal analyses when exploring public perceptions of crime. We find that political socialization can have a distinctive and enduring impression on public perceptions of crime from childhood into middle age.
    • Socialization and generational political trajectories: an age, period and cohort analysis of political participation in Britain.

      Grasso, Maria Teresa; Farrall, Stephen; Gray, Emily; Hay, Colin; Jennings, Will; University of Sheffield; University of Southampton; Centre d’études européennes, SciencesPo, Paris, France (Taylor & Francis, 2018-06-05)
      The role of political socialization in explaining disengagement from specific modes of activism beyond voting remains largely unexplored, limited to date by available data and methods. While most previous studies have tended to propose explanations for disengagement linked to specific repertoires of political action, we propose a unified theory based on the different socialization experiences of subsequent generations. We test this theory using a new dataset of collated waves of the British Social Attitudes Survey and by applying age–period–cohort models for repeated cross-sectional data and generalized additive models to identify generational effects. We show that generational effects underlie the participatory decline across repertoires. Consistent with our expectations, the results reveal that the generation of “Thatcher’s Children” are much less likely to engage in a range of repertoires of political action than “Wilson/Callaghan’s Children”, who came of age in the more politicized 1960s and 1970s. Significantly, and in line with our theoretical expectations, the “Blair’s Babies” generation is the least politically engaged of all. We reflect on these findings and highlight the concerning implications of falling levels of activism for advanced democracies.
    • Thatcherite ideology, housing tenure and crime: the socio-spatial consequences of the right to buy for domestic property crime.

      Farrall, Stephen; Hay, Colin; Jennings, Will; Gray, Emily; University of Sheffield (2015-09-14)
    • Thatcher’s Children, Blair’s Babies, Political Socialization and Trickle-down Value Change: an age, period and cohort analysis

      Grasso, Maria Teresa; Farrall, Stephen; Gray, Emily; Hay, Colin; Jennings, Will; University of Sheffield (2017-01-26)
      To what extent are new generations ‘Thatcherite’? Using British Social Attitudes data for 1985–2012 and applying age-period-cohort analysis and generalized additive models, this article investigates whether Thatcher’s Children hold more right-authoritarian political values compared to other political generations. The study further examines the extent to which the generation that came of age under New Labour – Blair’s Babies – shares these values. The findings for generation effects indicate that the later political generation is even more right-authoritarian, including with respect to attitudes to redistribution, welfare and crime. This view is supported by evidence of cohort effects. These results show that the legacy of Thatcherism for left-right and libertarian-authoritarian values is its long-term shaping of public opinion through political socialization.