Qual Quant (2013) 47:1173–1198
Applied nonlinear dynamical system in social science.
A nonlinear model for social control system:
an application to Italian coercion system
Published online: 14 January 2012
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract Does an increase in police strength discourage an increase in crime levels?
It would seem very likely so, despite the many platitudes common everywhere, even in
the most serious literature on the subject. This research study, using Non-Linear Analysis on
the Italian crime situation from 1985 to 2003, shows an almost non controvertible result. The
police force really does seem to have a deterrence function on crime, particularly evident
from the 90s on, where, as police strength increases, the number of crimes decrease. One of
the most interesting aspects deriving from the non-linear model used, is the speciﬁc measure-
ment of the number of crimes that might have been committed and that were not in virtue of
the deterrent action of the Police Force. Up to now, such an acquisition seems to be lacking
from other so called ‘traditional’ research, where such ‘indirect’ deterrence appears easily
hypothesized, but impossible to determine. For this reason too, the adoption of a non-linear
analysis logic shows its heuristic superiority able to shed light on certain aspects that in other
analysis models would remain in the shadows.
Keywords Deterrence · Noncompliance · Coercion · Complexity theory ·
Non-linear competitive model
1 Rule-breaking and social control activities: problems with the linear model
Traditional Sociology has amply dealt with the delicate mechanisms of law enforcement,
attempting to codify types and systems of crime control. When not focusing on the interiori-
zation process of social rules, social order enforcement has been based on the coercive action
(coercibility) of the Law. In other words, it was based on the premise that punishment is an
effective deterrent to deviant behavior and is able to make one conform to the establishment.
Sanctions, legal coercive apparatus, such as police, law enforcement agencies, magistrates
R. Condorelli (
Department of Analysis of Political, Social, and Institutional Process, Catania University, Catania, Italy
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