Understanding hate crimes 1
In this chapter, the authors consider what some of the social sciences, and their associated elements, have to say about their area of study, and assess the extent to which they further their understanding of ‘hate’ and ‘hate crime’. Closely aligned to the role of history in understanding hate crimes are issues relating to culture. Inextricably linked to the general concern about the apparent increase in hate crimes and other targeted violence in some countries where the impact of the world financial crisis has hit particularly hard, it seems, is the issue of economics. Given the position and influence of religion in both historical and contemporary hate crime issues, the field of religious studies is of considerable importance in terms of both understanding and responding to the problem. There is a prominent hypothesis that links economic hardship, often in the shape of unemployment, to far right extremism and associated offending behaviour, and to hate crime more generally.