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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


OVIEDO S., Enrique  and  RODRIGUEZ A., Alfredo. Santiago, a fear-stricken city. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.4-5, pp.278-285. ISSN 1680-5348.

The general purpose of this article is to determine how citizens’ fear of lack of safety affects the use of public spaces. In an evaluation such as this, it is necessary to analyze two types of relationships pertaining to violence: the one between victimization and a perception of being unsafe, and the one that exists between social attitudes and the peaceful resolution of national conflicts. To this end, an analysis was performed of different variables-victimization, feeling unsafe, use of physical spaces, attitudes toward the established political and social institutions and toward the resolution of national conflicts-and of potential associations between these variables. The data for the study came from a survey of 1 200 persons between 18 and 70 years old who were residents of Santiago. Results show that Santiago’s citizens live in fear and that their perception of a lack of safety has grown more intense, despite the fact that victimization rates remained relatively stable over the years preceding the survey. Fear is associated with an abandonment of both physical and sociopolitical public spaces, as well as with seeking refuge in private spaces and private life. There is a widespread attitude in favor of resolving conflicts through non-peaceful means, and such an attitude is more often associated with feeling unsafe, having negative attitudes toward democracy, and lacking hope in the nation’s future. The results of this study support the notion that, in order to overcome their fear, people tend to adapt to reality by adopting a conformist attitude, taking on standard beliefs and behaviors, and overestimating the use of   force as a way of resolving their differences.

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