In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hate Crime

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Measurement Issues
  • Issues with Criminalizing Hate Crime
  • Police and Enforcement of Hate Crime Laws
  • Victims of Hate Crime
  • Offenders Who Commit Hate Crimes
  • International Issues

Criminology Hate Crime
Lynn A. Addington
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 July 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0022


The term “hate crime” is relatively new; it was coined in the mid-1980s to identify crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s actual or perceived membership in a status group such as a particular race or religion (Jacobs and Potter 1998, in Issues with Criminalizing Hate Crime). Although the term itself is new, the fact that some crimes are motivated by bias against a particular group is not (Petrosino 1999, in Issues with Criminalizing Hate Crime). Initial research on this modern categorization of hate crimes focused on the difficulty in defining hate crimes and the criminal justice response to these new crimes, a smaller body of research has examined those who commit hate crimes as well as hate crimes in a comparative or international context. In this area, some researchers prefer the term “bias crime” as they believe it more accurately captures the motivations of the offender. Both terms are used interchangeably in this entry.

General Overviews

Although the systematic study of hate crimes constitutes a fairly recent topic, several good overviews exist. Perry 2003 compiles many excellent articles and studies. The readings cover topics that include defining and measuring hate crime, possible causes, victims of hate crime, hate groups, and interventions. The volume is accessible for undergraduates as well as graduate students and researchers new to the topic. Hall 2005 provides a comparative look at hate crimes in both the United States and UK. It is particularly helpful for researchers interested in an international perspective. Levin and McDevitt 2002 update their earlier work on hate crimes. Their book is a useful resource for undergraduates and those interested in the larger issues concerning hate crimes, examples of hate crimes, and policy responses. Gerstenfeld 2004 provides a useful overview that addresses many of the issues arising in the study of hate crimes. This text is well suited for an undergraduate course or as a quick reference for a researcher new to the topic.

  • Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B. 2004. Hate crimes: Causes, controls, and controversies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Provides a comprehensive overview. Covers issues including challenges to hate crime legislation, who commits hate crimes, who are victims of hate crime, policy responses to hate crimes, and international hate crimes. Useful as an undergraduate text as well as accessible reference to researchers new to the topic.

  • Hall, Nathan. 2005. Hate crime. Devon, UK: Willan.

    A solid overview of issues surrounding hate crime in the United States and United Kingdom including the extent of the problem, legislative initiatives, policing responses and community responses. Recommended for graduate students and researchers looking for an international perspective.

  • Levin, Jack, and McDevitt, Jack. 2002. Hate crimes revisited: America’s war on those who are different. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    An accessible overview of the issues surrounding hate crimes, including motivations and causes of hate crime. Recommended for undergraduate students.

  • Perry, Barbara. 2003. Hate and bias crime: A reader. New York: Routledge.

    Edited volume that contains a variety of articles and studies across a range of topics. Useful introduction and overview of hate crime issues. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students as well as researchers.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.