Social Construction of Hate Crime in the U.S.: A Factorial Survey Experiment

Grants and Contracts Details


Hate crime is a socially constructed concept. With the enforcement of the federal hate crime statutes, the protected ground of hate crime has been extended to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. However, the under reporting issues within the official statistics impede our understanding of the actual scale, scope, and the severity of hate crimes. Unfortunately, existing scholarly research fail to provide a comprehensive solution due to the challenges in capturing the “dark figure”. To address this significant gap in knowledge concerning conceptualizing hate crime and hate crime reporting, the purpose of this proposed study is to determine what and how do the factors at the individual-level and the incident- level informs the judgment of the encounter of a bias incident and the willingness to report such incidents. This project uses factorial survey experiments and advanced quantitative analysis methods to investigate the factors and mechanism of respondents’ perception and willingness to report hate incidents. Hypothetical vignettes will be used in the survey and randomly assigned to respondents. Surveys on race/ethnicity, sexual orientations, and religious affiliation will be distributed to reflect the most common hate crime motivations in the U.S. Data collection will be via online crowd-sourcing service to get access to a more representative population. Three attitude scales and demographic information will be collected. Multi-level modeling strategy will be applied to capture within group and between group differences. This project will have broader impacts by providing scholars with empirical information regarding the factors that affect perception and willingness to report hate crime in the U.S., and how individual and incident attributes interplay in the process, and by offering a theoretical argument as to how hate crime is socially constructed. Findings from this study can be used to direct targeted strategies for different stakeholders, including the general population, known victims, law enforcement agencies, and policy- makes, to minimize the impact of underreported hate crime, and ultimately promote social justice. Hate crime victim supporting programs may also find results from this study useful. Empirical evidence can also be used to promote legislation changes and reform official hate crime data collecting process. The timely and necessary research endeavor outlined in this proposal will be useful for scholars in the field of hate studies, sociology, survey researchers, and for practitioners alike.
Effective start/end date1/1/2112/31/21


  • National Institute of Justice: $50,000.00


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