What is meant by the notion of the 'other' and how does this relate to hate crime?


First Paragraph

Christopher Hegel (1770-1831) was the first to discuss the notion of the 'other'. He defined it as

somebody 'opposed to self' and inferior. Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) introduced it into his

'Gender Studies' where he was using it to emphasise the 'inferior' position of women in society.

The term 'other' is generally used to understand the processes of 'social exclusion', discrimination

and hatred. Social exclusion is a term to describe how society excludes 'others' by deeming them

subordinate because they do not fit into 'their' society. 'Otherness' is part of a process of reactions

which tend to carry stigmatisation and condemnation. It is also a process central to identity; where

the boundaries between 'Them' and 'Us' are sustained by admittance and segregation. Finally, the

process of 'othering' involves the demonization and dehumanisation of groups which is used to

justify hatred, violence and discrimination of those considered 'inferior' to others.

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Second Paragraph

Hall (1996) argues that identities are constituted out of differences ("we define what we are by

what we are not"). Hall continues by suggesting that 'only through the relation to what is not... can

identity be constructed'.Furthermore, Collins (1998) argues that through the 'illusion' of binary

opposites, human differences have been reduced to simplistic opposition to each other.

Felsenthal (2004) argues that such 'oppositional binaries' underpin Western culture. This aids in

the social construction of prejudices, perceptions and actions. Binary oppositions are 'fluid';

there exists a wide range of identities and experiences that lay 'somewhere in between'. Garland

et al (2006) suggests that the creation of 'opposition' in Western society means that those whose

categories lie outside the norm constitute the 'other'.

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Third Paragraph

Spalek (2008) argues that 'identity' formations' are central to contemporary developments in

criminal justice. For example, bias-motivated offending has entered into criminology with the

introduction of 'hate crime'. Historically, within the criminal justice system, 'race' and 'gender' have

been the main focus in terms of crime motivated by prejudice, discrimination and hatred. The

criminal justice system in England and Wales holds a 'haphazard' and 'unsystematic' approach to

diversity and equality of status for social groups and identities.

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Fourth Paragraph Pt.1

McLaughlin and Muncie (2007) define 'hate crime' as a 'criminal act motivated by hatred, bias or prejudice against a person or property based on the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation of the victim'. Hate crime encompasses:

  • Racist crime;
  • Sex crime;
  • Homophobia;
  • Anti-Semitism;
  • Sectarianism;
  • Links to ethnic cleansing and genocide

Hate Crimes can include:

  • Threatening behaviour;
  • Assault;
  • Robbery;
  • Damage to property;
  • Inciting to others to commit hate crimes;
  • Harassment
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Fourth Paragraph Pt.2

A hate incident is any incident, which may or may not be a crime, that the victim or any other

person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person's identity.

A hate crime can be comitted against a person or property and can take place anywhere.

Therefore, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime.

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Fifth Paragraph

The notion of the 'other' relates to Hate Crime because for an individual to be deemed subordinate

for not fitting into a society, there must be at least some hostility towards an aspect of the

individual's identity. Furthermore, 'othering' is arguably proof that Hate Crime is increasing. In

conclusion, the notion of the 'other' goes hand in hand with hate crime as both include the

rejection of an individual from society due to an aspect of their existence which does not agree

with the norm's expectations. 

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