Everyday moral judgements of anti-social behaviour

Adams, Jan and Millie, Andrew (2021). Everyday moral judgements of anti-social behaviour. Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 23 pp. 56–68.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41300-020-00106-6


Over recent decades, there has been a lot of academic and political focus on anti-social behaviour, but less attention on the everyday moral judgements that can inform what we perceive to be anti-social. This is despite politicians’ claims that anti-social behaviour reflects a moral decline. This article draws on a focus group study from the North West of England and on ideas from criminology and philosophy. People’s assessments of anti-social behaviour are found to be informed by judgements of morality, most often in terms of ‘doing what’s right’, having respect, and abiding by the Golden Rule, to ‘do to others what you would have them do to you’. Understandings of anti-social behaviour are stretched so far by the public that they can range from littering through to tax avoidance, but what these behaviours have in common is their perceived breaching of our day-to-day moral standards. Implications are discussed.

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