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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The historical transformation in the distribution of crime between towns and rural areas in the Western world between 1750 and 1950 remains a complex and debated issue. The few comparative studies on long-term crime seem to indicate a sharp decrease in urban crime, although with considerable variation in chronology and intensity. Conversely, the rapid urbanization of industrial cities was accompanied by outbreaks of violence, before declining as well. Certain types of crime are directly related to their environment, such as rural wood theft, arson, poaching, or urban street gang violence; yet most types of crime in towns and countryside share common characteristics. Accordingly, rural banditry shares many features with organized crime in the urban underworld, while the social and economic motivations behind urban riots may not differ so much from rural revolts as previously thought. A geographical history of crime should therefore consider both broader and more specific historical phenomena including the influence of war, immigration, and urban policies, as well as the definition and registration of criminal offenses by the police. Finally, in each country, crime rates were affected differently by the evolution in the relationship between state and society at the national and regional levels.

Keywords: urban and rural crime, theft, Banditry, mafia underworld, gangs, riots, Luddism, urbanization, violence, civilization

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