The Criminology of W.E.B. du Bois

Authored by: O. Oko Elechi

The Routledge Handbook on Africana Criminologies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367435721
eBook ISBN: 9781003004424
Adobe ISBN:


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W.E.B. Du Bois’s body of work, particularly The Philadelphia Negro, was one of the first criminological studies undertaken that gave insight into the relationship between culture, social and economic environment, and criminal behavior. It also highlighted how race and power intersect with societal responses to deviant behavior. Moreover, his research findings, which were strongly supported by relevant empirical evidence, challenged the prevalent thinking of the time that peoples of African descent were culturally and intellectually inferior to other races and therefore accounted for their overrepresentation in criminal behavior. His work is also important to the understanding of how race and racism shape the experiences of people of African descent and their relationship with others, especially how their self-perception impacts their social and economic performance. The purpose of this chapter is, therefore, the review of the seminal works of Du Bois, especially his contribution to the science of criminology, his African perspectives on crime and justice, and his pioneer role as a scholar-activist.

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