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

(2011) Critical Criminology, 19 (4). pp. 313-330

18 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2014

See all articles by Mark Walters

Mark Walters

University of Sussex Law School

Date Written: December 04, 2010


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.

Keywords: Hate crime, bias crime, etiology, strain theory, doing difference, self-control theory

Suggested Citation

Walters, Mark Austin, A General Theories of Hate Crime? Strain, Doing Difference and Self Control (December 04, 2010). (2011) Critical Criminology, 19 (4). pp. 313-330, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2470051

Mark Austin Walters (Contact Author)

University of Sussex Law School ( email )

Brighton BN1 9QN
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics