Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
The University of Southampton
Institute of Criminal Justice Research

"The Myth of Mob Rule: Violent Crime and Democratic Politics." Event

Lisa L Miller
14 October 2015
Building 67, Room 1003 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this event, please email Professor Jenny Fleming at .

Event details

Can majorities be entrusted to support rational policy ideas on issues like crime and security? Or are they inevitably la bella multorom capitum, the many-headed beast, demanding impulsive, irrational and mercurial policies, even when actual risk is very low? Using the politics of crime and punishment as a lens through which to consider the perennial question of the wisdom of mass publics, I suggest that large publics in modern democracies are far more attuned to real risk than is often imagined and that the range of policies the public will support when issues like crime are politically salient is much broader than scholars assume. Drawing on a larger project comparing the public and political salience of crime across three countries, I illustrate the strong relationship between rates of serious violence and public and political concern about crime, and highlight the importance of political institutions in shaping policy responses, once that concern emerges. In particular, and contrary to much received wisdom, I argue that the most punitive nation in the world -- the United States -- suffers from a democratic deficit, rather than a democratic surplus, and that it is this deficit that leads to high crime and high rates of imprisonment.

Lisa L Miller
The Myth of Mob Rule

Speaker information

Lisa L Miller,Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, Lisa's research interests are in law, social policy, inequality, crime and punishment. Her most recent book, The Perils of Federalism: Race, Poverty and Crime Control (Oxford, 2008), explores the relationship between the peculiar style of American federalism and the substantial inequalities in criminal victimization and punishment across racial groups in the U.S. Her work has appeared in Law and Society Review, Punishment and Society, Perspectives on Politics, Criminology and Public Policy, Law and Social Inquiry, Theoretical Criminology, among others. Her current book project, The Myth of Mob Rule: Violent Crime and Democratic Politics (Oxford University Press) is a comparative study of the relationship between the institutional features of democratic systems and the politics of crime and punishment. In 2012-2013 she was a Visiting Scholar at the Program in Law and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Government at Princeton University. In 2011-2012 she was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at the University of Oxford.

Privacy Settings