Understanding hate crimes 1
This chapter presents an overview of sociological and criminological knowledge in relation to the perpetrators of hate crime. Many sociological accounts of hate crime have their roots in anomie, and more specifically, strain theory. The goal of hate crime theory is to conceptualise this particular form of violence within the psychological, cultural, or political contexts that condition hostile perceptions of, and reactions to, the other. According to strain theory, hate crime is a way of responding to threats to the legitimate means of achieving society’s proscribed goals. Minority groups therefore serve to increase the perception of strain that the majority population feel, and hate crime is a product of, and a response to, that strain. Whilst the intention of hate crime policy is sometimes subverted and minorities may in some instances be disproportionately represented in the official statistics as perpetrators, it is minority groups who are predominantly the victims of hate crime.