Critical Criminology

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 313–330 | Cite as

A General Theories of Hate Crime? Strain, Doing Difference and Self Control

  • Mark Austin WaltersEmail author


This article attempts to put forward a more holistic vision of hate crime causation by exploring the intersections which exist between three separate criminological theories. Within the extant literature both Robert Merton’s strain theory and Barbara Perry’s structured action theory of ‘doing difference’ have been widely used to explain why prejudice motivated crimes continue to pervade most communities. Together the theories help to illuminate the sociological factors which act to create immense fear of, and hatred towards, various minority identity groups. However, neither of these theories adequately explain why some individuals commit hate crimes while others, equally affected by socio-economic strains and social constructions of ‘difference’, do not. This article therefore moves beyond such macro explanations of hate crime by drawing upon Gottfredson and Hirschi’s A General Theory of Crime (1990). Using typology research carried out by various academics, the article attempts to illustrate how socio-economic strains and general fears of ‘difference’ become mutually reinforcing determinants, promulgating a culture of prejudice against certain ‘others', which in turn ultimately triggers the hate motivated behaviours of individuals with low self control.


Identity Group Hate Crime Strain Theory Young Offender General Strain Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to that thank Carolyn Hoyle, Mary Bosworth and Jon Garland for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this paper and to the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Criminology, Faculty of LawOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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