Sunday, February 13, 2011

Concerning the Historiography of Crime

Norma Landau's "Gauging Crime in Late Eighteenth-Century London," in Social History Rev., Vol. 35, No. 4 (Nov. 2010), intervenes in historiographical debates about crime rates and reporting in England. Here is the abstract.

This article uses a new method to gauge eighteenth-century crime. It counts the crimes committed against metropolitan London's justices noted in newspapers and in the Old Bailey Sessions Papers, and finds crime more prevalent than current historiography acknowledges. The article contests current claims that the manner in which newspapers noted crime constructed their readers' perception of crime, making their readers believe crime was much more horrific, and the judicial system much more just, than readers would otherwise have thought they were. The article also argues that some crimes were attacks on the powerful because they were powerful.