Green’s (2007, 2008, 2009) recent comparative work on child-on-child homicides in England and Norway has drawn attention to political-cultural explanations to account for differences in levels of state punitiveness. His work finds support for the distinction made by Arend Lijphart (1999) between consensus and majoritarian democracy, through his argument that English majoritarian political culture created powerful incentives to exploit the homicide of James Bulger in ways that were not present in Norway. Drawing on comparative research in Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, this article joins with Green in enlisting political culture as an important explanatory variable yet challenges the usefulness of Lijphart’s typology in explaining penal difference.
- Punitiveness; political culture; cultural values
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