Prof. Dr. Dietrich Oberwittler

Research Group Leader
Independent research group Space, Contexts, and Crime
+49 761 7081-219

Main Focus

Di­et­rich Ober­wit­tler is a so­ci­olo­gist whose re­search in­terests are in the fields of com­munit­ies and crime, ad­oles­cent de­lin­quency, poli­cing, vic­tim­iz­a­tion and vi­ol­ence re­search, cross-cul­tur­al re­search and quant­it­at­ive meth­od­o­logy. He was the prin­cip­al in­vest­ig­at­or of sev­er­al re­search pro­jects on neigh­bor­hood and school con­tex­tu­al ef­fects on ad­oles­cent crime, on dis­order, in­sec­ur­ity per­cep­tions and col­lect­ive ef­fic­acy in neigh­bor­hoods, on po­lice-ad­oles­cent re­la­tions in France and Ger­many, on hon­or killings and on hom­icide-sui­cide, and was in­volved in the Ger­man Vic­tim­iz­a­tion Sur­vey 2012. He is col­lab­or­at­ing with the Sci­ence Po/CRNS, Uni­versity of Gren­oble, with the Pe­ter­bor­ough Ad­oles­cent and Young Adult De­vel­op­ment Study (PADS+), Uni­versity of Cam­bridge, and with the Aus­trali­an Com­munity Ca­pa­city Study (ACCS), Uni­versity of Queens­land.

Curriculum Vitae

After study­ing so­cial sci­ences and his­tory at the Uni­versit­ies of Mün­ster and Bonn and at Uni­versity Col­lege Lon­don, Di­et­rich Ober­wit­tler was a doc­tor­al stu­dent at the Uni­versity of Tri­er where he re­ceived a Dr. phil. for a thes­is on the de­vel­op­ment of ju­ven­ile justice in Ger­many and Eng­land between 1850 and 1920. In 1997, he joined the De­part­ment of Crim­in­o­logy at the Max Planck In­sti­tute in Freiburg. Since 1999, he has also taught so­ci­ology at the Uni­versity of Freiburg. From 2004 to 2006, he was a Mar­ie Curie fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Crim­in­o­logy, Uni­versity of Cam­bridge, where he worked SCoP­iC Net­work and the PADS+ Study dir­ec­ted by Pro­fess­or Per-Olof Wikström. Di­et­rich Ober­wit­tler re­turned to the Max Planck In­sti­tute as a seni­or re­search­er in Feb­ru­ary 2006. From 2006 to 2008, he was a Privat­dozent (com­par­able to as­so­ci­ate pro­fess­or) for So­ci­ology at the Uni­versity of Biele­feld, and in 2008, he moved this status to the Uni­versity of Freiburg. In March 2008, he was gran­ted a W2 po­s­i­tion as a re­search group lead­er at the Max Planck In­sti­tute. In 2015, he was ap­poin­ted ex­tra-cur­ricular pro­fess­or of so­ci­ology by the Uni­versity of Freiburg. Since 2019, he has been the lead­er of the in­de­pend­ent re­search group Space, Con­texts, and Crime.

Independent Research Group

Independent Research Group more


The ma­jor goal of this study is to ad­vance the un­der­stand­ing of struc­tur­al con­di­tions and so­cial pro­cesses in… more


Journal Article (43)

Journal Article
Svensson, R., & Oberwittler, D. (2021). Changing routine activities and the decline of youth crime: A repeated cross-sectional analysis of self-reported delinquency in Sweden, 1999–2017. Criminology. doi:10.1111/1745-9125.12273
Journal Article
Köber, G., Oberwittler, D., & Wickes, R. (2020). Old age and fear of crime: cross-national evidence for a decreased impact of neighbourhood disadvantage in older age. Ageing & Society. doi:10.1017/S0144686X20001683
Journal Article
Schwarzenbach, A., Tankebe, J., & Oberwittler, D. (2020). In Their Own Hands: Young People and Self-Justice Retaliation in Germany. Crime & Delinquency. doi:10.1177/0011128720948032
Journal Article
Janssen, H. J., Oberwittler, D., & Koeber, G. (2020). Victimization and Its Consequences for Well-Being: A Between- and Within-Person Analysis. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. doi:10.1007/s10940-019-09445-6
Journal Article
Janssen, H. J., Oberwittler, D., & Gerstner, D. (2019). Dissecting Disorder Perceptions: Neighborhood Structure and the Moderating Role of Interethnic Contact and Xenophobic Attitudes. International Criminal Justice Review. doi:10.1177/1057567719896020
Journal Article
Gerstner, D., Wickes, R., & Oberwittler, D. (2019). Collective Efficacy in Australian and German Neighborhoods: Testing Cross-Cultural Measurement Equivalence and Structural Correlates in a Multi-level SEM Framework. Social Indicators Research, 144(3), 1151–1177. doi:10.1007/s11205-019-02081-4
Journal Article
de Maillard, J., Hunold, D., Roché, S., & Oberwittler, D. (2018). Different styles of policing: discretionary power in street controls by the public police in France and Germany. Policing and Society - an International Journal of Research and Policy, 28(2), 175–188. doi:10.1080/10439463.2016.1194837
Journal Article
Gerstner, D., & Oberwittler, D. (2018). Who’s hanging out and what’s happening? A look at the interplay between unstructured socializing, crime propensity and delinquent peers using social network data. European journal of criminology: the journal of the European Society of Criminology, 15(1), 111–129. doi:10.1177/1477370817732194
Journal Article
Köber, G., & Oberwittler, D. (2018). How older people became less afraid of crime: an age-period-cohort analysis using repeated cross-sectional survey data. Social Science Research, 79, 211–225. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.010
Journal Article
Weeke, A., & Oberwittler, D. (2018). A Comparison of Note Writers and No Note Writers in Homicide-Suicide Cases in Germany. Archives of Suicide Research, 22(1), 11–19. doi:10.1080/13811118.2017.1304307
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