Critical Hate Studies: a theoretical perspective

Dr Zoë James1, Ms Katie McBride1
1University Of Plymouth, Uk, Plymouth, United Kingdom

This paper sets out the critical hate studies perspective which provides a theoretical account of the harms of hate in contemporary society. In doing so the paper challenges existing theoretical approaches to hate ‘crime’ that have been unable to cohesively explain the variability of patterns of hate offending or perpetrator motivations for hate incidents that appear both extreme and banal. The paper proposes that a more nuanced critical account of hate must explicitly consider the influence of neo-liberalism on our subjective identity and lived experience. In doing so it is possible to acknowledge the impact of competitive individualism and the lack of a symbolic order on human interaction that stokes anxiety and leads to fear and loathing in late modernity as people fight for their position within the capitalist political economy. Following contemporary developments in critical criminology, this paper disputes the academy’s reliance on existing social constructionist accounts for hate crime and instead provides a fully psycho-social account that is able to elucidate hate harms that manifest subjectively, systemically and symbolically in society. In conclusion the paper therefore suggests that hate studies should utilise an approach which acknowledges the hate harms caused when individuals are denied recognition of their need for respect, esteem and love and are therefore prevented from flourishing.


Dr Zoë James is Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Plymouth, UK. Her key research interests lie in examining hate from a critical perspective with a particular focus on the harms experienced by Gypsies, Travellers and Roma. Zoë’s research has explored how mobility, accommodation, policing and planning have impacted on the lived experience of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma. She has presented her work nationally and internationally and is a board member of the International Network for Hate Studies. Zoë teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students in criminological theory, policing and critical hate studies. She is Associate Head of School for Criminology at the University of Plymouth.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2018 Conference Design Pty Ltd