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.
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.