Darnell Hawkins’ and a Research Agenda for Ethnicity Studies and Crime

Posted on June 22, 2012 by

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Darnell Hawkins speaking at a conference. Image: CrimeCents

Darnell Hawkins spoke at the National Institute of Justice Annual Conference held this week. On a panel titled “The Relationships Between Neighborhoods, Race and Crime,” Hawkins discussed his perspective on the study of race and crime as a an academic with a long and respected career.

While he described himself self-deprecatingly as “grumpy” about our collective failure to make much progress when it comes to the study of race and crime, his presentation was as moving as it was important.

Hawkins’ proposed research agenda for the field, paraphrased roughly (all errors are mine), is as follows:

  1. Move beyond black and white. There are other ethnicities.
  2. Move beyond the mere documentation of the differences.
  3. Utilize within group comparisons to better understand across group differences.
  4. Collect data at the local, regional, county level data to explore nuance.
  5. Include more than just urban areas in our studies. The focus on urban areas gives us a limited window into understanding the roots of ethnicity and racial differences in crime.
  6. Translate research findings into reasonably plausible policy directives in order to get funding.

I agree with him, and think that in the post- post-modern era we too often think that we have either done the work or that the work no longer needs to be done. As Hawkins points out, we have much to do when it comes to better understanding race, ethnicity, and crime.

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