Homicide in Scandinavia: Long-Term Trends and Their Interpretations

  • Dag Lindström

Abstract

Present day Scandinavia is usually considered to be a rather peaceful and secure part of the world. This is generally confirm in the national crime statistics. The post-war homicide rates in Sweden, Norway and Denmark have been comparatively low. In Finland, on the other hand, homicide rates have been quite high even by international standards. (See Fig. 2.) However, the difference between Finland and the other Scandinavian countries does not represent a long historical continuity. It is actually a comparatively recent phenomenon. There is no evidence indicating higher homicide rates in Finland than in other parts of Scandinavia before the eighteenth century. Historical studies also tell us that medieval and early modern Scandinavia in general was much more violent and dangerous than today. Several studies have revealed a terrifying level of lethal violence, especially in the towns, where the highest estimated homicide rates reach a level of about 80 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Homicide rates in Scandinavia 1951–1995. The figures are calculated as mean values per 100,000 population annually, based on reported offences. Source: von Hofer, 1997.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ågren, M. (1988). Att lösa ekonomiska tvister — domstolarnas främsta sysselsättning på 1700-talet? Historisk tidskrift, 108, 481–511.Google Scholar
  2. Appel, H. H. (1999). Tinget, magten og æren. Studier i sociale processer og magtrelationer i et jysk bondesamfund i 1600-tallet. Odense: Odense Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  3. Bagge, S., & Mykland, K. (1987). Norge i dansketiden (Politikens Danmarkshistorie). København: Politikens forlag.Google Scholar
  4. Eisner, M. (2001). Modernization, Self-control and Lethal Violence. The Long-term Dynamics of European Homicide Rates in Theoretical Perspective. British Journal of Criminology, 41, 618–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gurr, T. R. (1981). Historical Trends in Violent Crime: A Critical Review of the Evidence. Crime and Justice. An Annual Review of Research, 3, 295–353.Google Scholar
  6. Helle, K. (1982). Bergen bys historie 1. Kongssete og kjøbstad. Fra opphavet til 1536. Alma Mater: Bergen.Google Scholar
  7. von Hofer, H. (1985). Brott och straff i Sverige. Historisk kriminalstatistik 1750–1840. Diagram, tabeller och kommentarer. Stockholm: Statistiska centralbyrån (CSB).Google Scholar
  8. von Hofer, H. (1997). Nordic Criminal Statistics 1950–1995 (Department of Criminology, Stockholm University, Report 1997:2). Stockholm.Google Scholar
  9. von Hofer, H. (2003). Crime and Punishment in Sweden: Historical Criminal Justice Statistics 1750–2000. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 4, 162–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jansson, A. (1998). From Swords to Sorrow. Homicide and Suicide in Early Modern Stockholm (Stockholm Studies in Economic History 30). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  11. Jarrick, A., & Söderberg, J. (Eds.) (1994). Människovärdet och makten. Om civiliseringsprocessen i Stockholm 1600–1850. Stockholm: Stockholmia.Google Scholar
  12. Jarrick, A., & Söderberg, J. (1998). Odygd och vanära. Folk och brott I gamla Stockholm. Stockholm: Rabén Prisma.Google Scholar
  13. Johansen, J. C. V., & Stevnsborg, H. (1986). Hasard ou Myopie. Réflexions autour de deux théories de l’histoire du droit. Annales ESC, 41, 601–624.Google Scholar
  14. Karonen, P. (1995). Trygg eller livsfarlig? Våldsbrottsligheten i Finlands städer 1540–1660. Historisk tidskrift för Finland, 80, 1–11.Google Scholar
  15. Karonen, P. (1998). A Life for a Life versus Christian Reconciliation: Violence and the Process of Civilization in the Towns of the Kingdom of Sweden during the Years 1540–1700. In H. Ylikangas, P. Karonen & M. Lehti (Eds.), Five Centuries of Violence in Finland and the Baltic Area. Academy of Finland: Helsinki, 129–195.Google Scholar
  16. Kaspersson, M. (2000). Dödligt våld i Stockholm på 1500-, 1700-och 1900-talen. Stockholm: Kriminologiska institutionen.Google Scholar
  17. Lager, B. (1962). Stockholms befolkning på Johan III:s tid. Stockholm: Stadshistoriska institutet.Google Scholar
  18. Larsson, L.-O. (1982). Småländsk historia. Stormaktstiden. Stockholm: Norstedts.Google Scholar
  19. Lehti, M. (2001). Homicide Trends in Finland and Estonia in 1880–1940: Consequences of the Demographic, Social and Political Effects of Industrialization. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 2, 50–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liliequist, J. (1999). Violence, Honour and Manliness in Early Modern Northern Sweden. In M. Lappalainen & P. Hirvonen (Eds.), Crime and Control in Europe from the Past to the Present. Helsinki: Academy of Finland, 174–202.Google Scholar
  21. Lilja, S. (1996). Städernas folkmängd och tillväxt. Sverige (med Finland) ca 1570-tal till 1810-tal. (Historisk tätortsstatistik, del 2). Stockholm: Norstedts.Google Scholar
  22. Lindström, D. (1994). Oärliga mästare och kivande makar. Ett och annat om rättskipning, kriminalitet och normsystem i 1500-talets Norden. Historisk tidskrift, 114, 513–554.Google Scholar
  23. Lindström, D. (2003). Från lokal konfliktlösare till administrativ stab. Råd och kämnärsrätt i karlstad under 1600-talet. Scandia, 69, 3–33.Google Scholar
  24. Lindström, D. (2007). Fejd i medeltidens och 1500-talets Sverige. In E. Opsahl (Ed.), Felder og fred i nordisk middelalder. Oslo: Unipub, 107–134.Google Scholar
  25. Løyland, M. (1992). Slagsmål, leiermål og botlagte egder 1600–1700. Oslo: Tingboksprosjektet.Google Scholar
  26. Magnusson, L. (1988). Den bråkiga kulturen. Förläggare och smideshantverkare i Eskilstuna 1800–1850. Stockholm: Författarförlaget.Google Scholar
  27. Næss, H. E. (1994). Vold. In K. Tønnesson (Ed.) Normer og sosial kontroll i Norden ca. 1550–1850. Domstolene i samspill med lokalsamfunnet. (Det 22. nordiske historikermøte, Oslo 13.–18. August 1994). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 62–80.Google Scholar
  28. Österberg, E. (1991a). Brott och social kontroll i Sverige från medeltid till stormaktstid. Godtycke och grymhet — eller sunt förnuft och statskontroll. Historisk Tidsskrift (Norway), 70, 150–165.Google Scholar
  29. Österberg, E. (1991b). Kontroll och kriminalitet i Sverige från medeltid till nutid: Tendenser och tolkningar. Scandia, 57, 65–87.Google Scholar
  30. Österberg, E. (1991c). Violence among Peasants. Comparative Perspectives on Sixteenth-and Sevententh-Century Sweden. In E. Österberg (Ed.), Mentalities and Other Realities. Essays in Medieval and Early Modern Scandinavian History. Lund: Lund University Press, 89–112.Google Scholar
  31. Österberg, E. (1992). Criminality, Social Control, and the Early Modern State: Evidence and Interpretations in Scandinavian Historiography. Social Science History, 16, 67–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Österberg, E. (1996). Criminality, Social Control, and the Early Modern State: Evidence and Interpretations in Scandinavian Historiography. In E. A. Johnson & E. H. Monkkonen (Eds.) The Civilization of Crime. Violence in Town and Country since the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 35–62.Google Scholar
  33. Österberg, E. & Lindström, D. (1988). Crime and Social Control in Medieval and Early Modern Swedish Towns (Studia Historica Upsaliensia 152). Stockholm: Almqvisr & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  34. Sandmo, E. (1992). Tingets tenkemåter. Kriminalitet og rettssaker i Rendalen 1763–97. Oslo: Tingboksprosjektet.Google Scholar
  35. Sandmo, E. (1994). Æren og ærekrenkelsen. In K. Tønnesson (Ed.), Normer og sosial kontroll i Norden ca. 1550–1850. Domstolene i samspill med lokalsamfunnet. (Det 22. nordiske historikerm0te, Oslo 13–18. August 1994). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 81–86.Google Scholar
  36. Sandmo, E. (1999). Voldssamfunnets undergang. Om disiplineringen av Norge på 1600-tallet. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  37. Sandmo, E. (2000). The History of Violence in the Nordic Countries: A Case Study. Scandinavian Journal of History, 25, 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sandnes, J. (1990). Kniven, ølet og œren. Kriminalitet og samfunn i Norge på 1500-og 1600-tallet. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  39. Sjöberg, M. T. (1990). Staten och tinget under 1600-talet. Historisk tidskrift, 110, 161–190.Google Scholar
  40. Söderberg, J. (1990). En fråga om civilisering. Brottmål och tvister i Svenska häradsrätter 1540–1660. Historisk Tidskrift. 110, 229–258.Google Scholar
  41. Söderberg, J. (1993). Civilisering, marknadoch våld i Sverige 1750–1870. En regional analys. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  42. Söderberg, J. (1998). Våld och civilisering i Sverige 1750–1870. Stockholm: Podium.Google Scholar
  43. Spierenburg, P. (1994). Faces of Violence: Homicide Trends and Cultural Meanings: Amsterdam 1431–1816. Journal of Social History, 27, 701–716.Google Scholar
  44. Spierenburg, P. (1996). Long-Term Trends in Homicide: Theoretical Reflections and Dutch Evidence, Fifteenth to Twentieth Centuries. In E. A. Johnson & E. H. Monkkonen (Eds.), The Civilization of Crime. Violence in Town and Country since the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 63–105.Google Scholar
  45. Stone, L. (1983). Interpersonal Violence in English Society 1300–1980. Past and Present, 101, 22–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sundin, J. (1992). För Gud, staten och folket. Brott och rättskipning i Sverige 1600–1840. Stockholm: Nordiska bokhandeln.Google Scholar
  47. Verkko, V. (1946), Våldsbrottlighetens utveckling och lagbundenhet i Sverige och Finland 1750–1940. Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift, 49, 325–340.Google Scholar
  48. Westling, C. (2002). Småstadens dynamik. Skänninges och Vadstenas befolkning och kontaktfält ca 1630–1660. Linköping: Linköpings universitet.Google Scholar
  49. Ylikangas, H. (1976). Major Fluctuations in Crimes of Violence in Finland: A Historical Analysis. Scandinavian Journal of History, 1, 81–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ylikangas, H. (1994). Ätten och våldet. Våldsbrotten i Norden vid övergången till nya tiden. Historisk tidskrift för Finland, 79, 3–25.Google Scholar
  51. Ylikangas, H. (1998a). What Happened to Violence. An Analysis of the Development of Violence from Medieval Times to the Early Modern Era Based on Finnish Source Material. In H. Ylikangas, P. Karonen & M. Lehti (Eds.), Five Centuries of Violence in Finland and the Baltic Area, Academy of Finland: Helsinki, 7–128.Google Scholar
  52. Ylikangas, H. (1998b). The Knife Fighters. Violent Crime in Southern Ostrobothnia 1790–1825. Helsinki: Suomalainen tiedeakatemia.Google Scholar
  53. Ylikangas, H. (1999). Reasons for the Reduction of Violence in Finland in the seventeenth Century. In M. Lappalainen & P. Hirvonen (Eds.), Crime and Control in Europe from the Past to the Present. Helsinki: Academy of Finland, 165–173.Google Scholar
  54. Ylikangas, H., Johansen, J. C. V., Johansson, K., & Næss, H. E. (2000). Family, State, and Patterns of Criminality: Major Tendencies in the Work of the Courts, 1550–1850. In E. Österberg & S. Sogner (Eds.), People Meet the Law. Control and Conflict-handling in the Courts. The Nordic Countries in the Post-Reformation and Pre-lndustrial Period. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 57–139.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dag Lindström
    • 1
  1. 1.ISAK(Institutionen for studier av samhällsutveckling och kultur), Enheten, för historia, (Department for Studies in Social Change and Culture, History Division)Linköpings universitetLinköpingSweden

Personalised recommendations