Re-Integrative Shaming Theory and Crime: a Tale of Two Rural Australian Communities

Patrick C. Jobes, University of New England
Elaine Margaret Barclay, University of New England
Joseph F. Donnermeyer, The Ohio State University

This paper examines Re-Integrative Shaming Theory within Australian rural communities, whose diversity provide a unique laboratory for investigating theoretical and methodological issues about the relationship between community characteristics and crime. Case studies were conduted in four rural communities in New South Wales (Australia) to examine the relationship between community cohesiveness and crime. Residents' perceptions of the incidence and types of crime and other social problems experienced in each community were compared. Factors that intervened between the success or failure of the residents to cope with crime were explored. More cohesive and integrated communities experienced less crime. Conversely, more fragmented communities had more crime and other social problems. One highly cohesive community had a low crime rate, yet also had a large Aboriginal population. There was a strong unity of opinion and lifestyle, and a common belief in the close relationship between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Control over crime was maintained through strong social controls that demonstrated Braithwaite's (1989) concept of "re-integrative shaming." In contrast, another community also had a high Aboriginal population, but experienced more difficulty in controlling crime because there was a lack of cohesion between various groups in the community anbd no consensus regarding acceptable social behavior.

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Updated 05/20/2006