Perry (2001) refers to them as ‘message’ crimes5. Gerstenfeld (2004) defined hate crimes not where the offender simply hates the victim but are criminal acts that are motivated by the group affiliation of the victim6. The definition provided by the Association of Chief Police Officer’s (ACPO) 2005 Hate Crime Guidelines extended the incidents that can be recorded under hate crime to those motivated by prejudice “any incident… whlch Is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate. 4” Petroslno 2003 adds a notion of an Imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim defining victims as less powerful politically and economically and hate Incidents occur when the minority community represent a threat to the perpetrator’s quality of Ilfe6. This framework of power relations sheds light on hate crimes not as extraordinary offences but of extensions of the types of prejudice and marginalisation experienced by mlnorlty groups In ‘every day society.
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Blas motivated crime from this viewpoint provides a tool for, In western societies; white, young, heterosexual, males to reaffirm their place In a complex social hierarchy by responding to perceived threats to this innately constructed structure12. Perry (2002) offers a full definition that “hate crime… involves acts of violence and intimidation, usually directed towards already stigmatised and marginalised groups. It is a mecnanlsm 0T power ana oppresslon Intenaea to reamrm tne precarlous nlerarcnles that characterise a given social order.
It attempts to recreate simultaneously the threatened (real or imagined) predominant influence of the perpetrators group and the appropriate subordinate identity of the victims group5″ Perry encapsulates a lot of commonalities that definitions of hate crime share and when evaluating how effective traditional victimology theories are in explaining and understanding hate crime it is important to take all these aspects into account and realise that “hate rime is much more than the act of mean-spirited bigots, it is embedded in the structural and cultural context within which groups interact. Young (1990), Bowling (1993), Kelly et al (1993)6. The origins of victimology have been popularly ascribed to the work of Mendelsohn (1956) andVon Hentig (1948B. Their early work was concerned with developing ways of differentiating the victim and non-victim with regards to how prone and culpable they were at becoming victims of crime and sparked the development of the theory of positivist victimology.
Page 2 Appraise the key traditional theoretical approaches Essay
Miers (1989) defines uch an approach as “the identificationof factors which contribute to a non-random pattern of victimization, a focus on interpersonal crimes of violence, and a concern to identify victims who may have contributed to their own victimisation4” Positivist victimology looks at victimising events in a scientific manner and is concerned with what is understood as ‘normal’ crime8. The victim is presumed to be obvious, meaning they are either given by the criminal law or obvious in the nature of their suffering.
It provides a static snapshot of a society, in particular what constitutes riminal victimisation at a given time in history, and however, it can’t provide an understanding of the social or historical production of such victimisation. A positivist theory can help one start to understand the victimology, which around the time the theory was being developed, was still a relatively new area of research within criminology, and this could only have been useful for understanding victims of hate crime as the emergence of the victim would therefore have been synonymous with the rise in different types of victimisation, such as hate crime.
Positivist victimology lso sparked the development of criminal victimisation surveys, which were influential in making criminal victimisation a more prominent social matter. A criticism, however, it is that it places too much emphasis on the self-evident nature of victims. It also accentuates the differences between the offender and the victim. Whilst acts of hate are fundamentally against the other,’ positivist victimology believes victims could be identified by some personal characteristic which marked them as being different from the ‘norm’ which in reality is not the case with crime in general, let alone hate crime.
Under positivist victimology the societal ‘norm’ is the white, heterosexual, male, which is in line with the ‘norm’ in hate crime theory in western societies9, however, such a theory is too basic and while it may acknowledge the fact that some hate crimes are committed against ethnically different communities the notion of victims and offenders being physically different, or even from different communities, as will be examined later, is a primitive view.
Hate crimes are different as they are bracketed together for the commonality the victims share in regards to the persecution they feel as a result of being a member of a certain social, eligious, sexually orientated or physically able community and positivist victimology does little to help readers understand this6. Dignan (2005) argued that a “positivist victimology Talls to appreclate tne Tact tnat Dotn tne statel elT ts , tnrougn Its agencies and also the legal and penal processes that it sanctions may themselves create new victims and also further victimise those who have already been victimised by an offender. ” A shortfall that radical victimology would attempt to address. Radical victimology, instead of seeing victimization as a product of the personal attributes of ndividual victims draws attention to structural factors relating to the way society is organised and also the role of the capitalist state itself and the legal system in the social construction of both victims and offenders, Quinney (1972)4.
Radical victimology is predominantly concerned with structural inequalities and how these shape the distribution of victimisation. Although it has been criticised for its narrow preoccupation with social class structures this could be useful in trying to understand the notion of an imbalance of power between perpetrators and victims of ate crime (Petrosino 2003 and Perry 2001).
Radical victimology, in this respect, could help to back up a finding of Sibbitt’s (1997) study of perpetrators of racist violence on two South London housing estates which found that many white people living on the estates felt let down by local authorities (the state) who were blamed for allocating resources to minority ethnic groups, who in their eyes, didn’t deserve them, ultimately resulting in racist abuse4. While radical victimology can be effective in describing this sort of motivated hate crime it still doesn’t address why the white erpetrators chose to direct their hate or prejudice against minority groups.
Perry (2001) argues that hate crime offending is designed to maintain society’s social hierarchies, which privilege white, heterosexual, males and stigmatise those who don’t conform to these hegemonic identities which is in line with radical victimology5, however, Sibbitt (1997) and Gadd, Dixon and Jefferson (2000) suggest that racist hate crime is more likely to occur in deprived neighbourhoods where perpetrators would not appear to be more socially privileged6. Out of the short comings of radical victimology, radical left realism was created.
This approach highlights the fact that, as Dignan (2005) stated, “The most predatory crime was directed not against the wealthy bourgeoisie but against the poorest members of society who tend to live among those responsible for crime. 7” This fits in with the findings of Sibbitt’s (1997) and Ray and Smith’s (2001) studies that concluded that those who engaged in hate crime violence often had a history of criminal behaviour, came from dysfunctional families, had very basic education and were mostly unemployed6. Reiterating hate crimes as more likely to occur in deprived neighbourhoods by members of similar social lasses.
Victims of hate crimes appear in reality to be from the same neighbourhoods as the perpetrators which can be explained more effectively using the ‘engaged’ criminology stance of radical left realism9. Whilst radical victimology acknowledges social structures and how they impact on the victimisation of lower social classes and the considerable power of the law and the state to oppress, it fails to consider features of the process of victimisation other than class, for example not taking into account factors such as gender, race, age and religion and is therefore limited in how ffective it is in explaining hate crimeSee More on Crime