Only the Lonely: Crime and the Collective Lonliness of Contemporary Society

Mike Presdee, University of Sunderland

The notion of the 'loner' the 'stranger' and the 'outsider' has a long and deep history within western culture and is often seen as an explanation for crime. Literature, film and television have all portrayed the mystique and fear of those who appear to stand outside of the 'commuity'. It is as if the explanation for much crime, say murder, resides in the notion of the 'loner' itself. We need say no more, it is self explanatory. The murderer of British television presenter Gill Dando was a Loner. The Dunblame mass killing of children was by a 'loner', the Colorado school killers were 'loners'.

This paper explores this cultural phenomena in light of the increasing collective loneliness experienced in contemporary society whereby the isolated millions of urban life contain within them the potential for more and more 'senseless' acts of crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006