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

Space, Contexts, and Crime

Independent Research Group more


Crime, Insecurities, and Social Dynamics in Urban Neighborhoods

The major goal of this study is to advance the understanding of structural conditions and social processes in rela­tion to crime problems in urban neighborhoods in a longitudinal perspective. Residents’ subjective perceptions of disorder and crime as well as collective social capital are key mechanisms in the complex social processes shap­ing the… more


The project investigates the short- and medium-term effects of the Covid-19-Pandemic on crime in Baden-Würt­tem­berg (southwest Germany) during 2019 to 2021, based on recorded crime data, mobility data and various so­cio-economic and geographic data, and employing spatio-temporal modeling. A special module focusses on do­mes­tic violence against… more

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