This paper analyses the rise of a new kind of urban citizenship in the context of the urban crisis of the 1980s: the vigilant citizen, characterized by a view of citizens as possible victims, who assume and are called upon to take responsibility for social safety. Top-down policy explanations insufficiently clarify why the polarized debate over urban petty crime developed into a consensus by the mid-1980s. Tying in with recent trends in urban police history, this paper shows the diversity of bottom-up actors in Amsterdam that helped to, sometimes unintentionally, further a communitarian “social safety” agenda: vigilantes and victim-support groups, the former based in more conservative circles, the latter partly inspired by women advocacy groups. These actors entered into a sometimes-tense dynamic with the police and municipality, which took up the challenge of providing victim support and of educating the public for neighborhood prevention. This slowly yielded results.
- urban crisis
- victim support