What is Racism? Othering, Prejudice and Hate-motivated Violence

  • University of Keele Queensland University of Technology
     United Kingdom


The paper’s concern is the current difficulty, in journalism, the academy and politics, of discussing questions to do with race, ethnicity, difference and immigration because of the fear of being called a racist. It starts with an analysis of biographical interview data drawn from fifteen people who had variously acquired the label racist and who were part of a small-scale study into racism in the Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent, UK conducted between 2003 and 2005. The interviews used the free association narrative interview method. This analysis revealed that most people do not consider themselves racist and that having a conviction for a racially aggravated offence or being a member of a far right organisation was not able to differentiate racists from non-racists. It also revealed a spectrum of attitudes towards immigrants or particular ethnic groups: strong expressions of hatred at one end of the spectrum; strong prejudicial feelings in the middle; and a feeling that ‘outsider’ groups should not benefit at the expense of ‘insiders’ (called ‘othering’) at the other end. The turn to theory for assistance revealed that, although hatred, prejudice and ‘othering’ are not the same thing, and do not have the same origins, they have become elided. This is primarily because cognitive psychology’s hostility to psychoanalysis marginalised hatred whilst its exclusive preoccupation with prejudice came effectively to define racism at the individual level. Progress in thinking about racism might consist of abolishing the term and returning to thinking about hatred, prejudice and ‘othering’ separately.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2015-12-01
Pages:120 to 135
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics
How to Cite
Jefferson, T. (2015) “What is Racism? Othering, Prejudice and Hate-motivated Violence”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 4(4), pp. 120-135. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v4i4.261.

Author Biography

University of Keele Queensland University of Technology
 United Kingdom
Tony Jefferson is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Justice, QUT, and an Emeritus Professor from the University of Keele. Emeritus Professor Tony Jefferson is a world leading scholar in criminology and sociology. He has an outstanding record of distinguished academic achievement and awards. He started his career in the early 1970s at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University where he co-wrote “Resistance Through Rituals”, which is still in print and regarded as one of the most important contributions to the field of criminology. Tony Jefferson then co-authored another classic: Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order, which has been reprinted many times and is widely regarded as one of quintessential texts in the field of criminology. The last ten years of his career was spent at the Department of Criminology, University of Keele. He has been a distinguished scholar invited to many universities in the UK and the US. He has received ESRC research awards, rated outstanding, been an editor on many international journals and brings with him a vast array of international research networks. Professor Tony Jefferson has been a visiting professor in a number of established universities around the world including the University of Bremen Germany, City University of New York and University of Western Sydney Australia. In addition, he was a keynote speaker at the 2nd International Crime, Justice and Social Democracy conference hosted by the School of Justice from 8-11 July 2013