Crime & Justice Policy

Inequalities and Crime

Heimer, K.


The study of inequalities undergirds much of criminology. At times, however, we may take the impact of inequalities for granted and miss opportunities to problematize the strong link between inequalities and crime. In this address, I maintain that it is important to step back and recognize that economic, race, ethnic, gender, and other inequalities are at the core of criminology. More explicit consensus about the centrality of the link between inequalities and crime will allow for our field to speak to the major social and political issues of our time and will strengthen the field. In this address, I highlight some fruitful avenues of research on inequalities and crime. I then argue that the concept of intersecting inequalities can provide additional connective tissue between research focused on economic, race, ethnic, and gender inequalities. By drawing on recent evaluations of the concept in other fields, I discuss key issues that must be addressed in employing an intersecting inequalities approach and then suggest solutions. I conclude that use of an intersecting inequalities approach has the potential to uncover important insights and span research areas, thereby pushing forward our understanding of the impact of economic, race, ethnic, gender, and other inequalities on crime and victimization.


Heimer K. Inequalities and Crime. 2019;57(3). doi: