Much research into urban fear provides obvious and unhelpful conclusions. For example, it is often shown that fear of crime correlates with incidence of crime. Hardly ground-breaking stuff.
Emphasis upon ‘fear of crime’ has resulted in misanthropic urban design measures that prioritize security over civic engagement. Paradoxically, design driven by security heightens perception of insecurity and increases suspicion.
Urban fear research is more fruitful when it considers identity-based fear and processes of inclusion and exclusion rather than focusing upon fear of crime. Enter, Sophie Body-Gendrot…
Body-Gendrot places fear of the city within the context of the pressures exerted by globalization. Her insight into such pressures opens up new fields of research and theorization centered upon state-sanctioned social order and urban violence within what have become known as global cities. This approach acknowledges globalization’s impact upon spatial segregation, poverty and state function and how communities themselves cope with this impact upon urban order.
The on-the-ground and amongst-it approach of Body-Gendrot derives thoughtful urban planning and design measures. These are focussed on civic engagement within the public realm and self-generated strategies.