Abstract: Economists and other interested academics have committed significant time and effort to developing a set of circumstances under which an intelligent and circumspect form of racial profiling can serve as an effective tool in crime finding–the specific objective of finding criminal activity afoot. In turn, anti-profiling advocates tend to focus on the immediate efficacy of the practice, the morality of the practice, and/or the legality of the practice. However, the tenor of this opposition invites racial profiling proponents to develop more surgical profiling techniques to employ in crime finding. In the article, I review the literature on group distinction to discern its relevance to the practice and study of racial profiling. I argue that the costs of racial profiling extend beyond inefficient policing and the humiliation of law-abiding minority pedestrians and drivers. Racial profiling is simultaneously a process of perception and articulation of relative human characteristics (both positive and negative); it binds and reifies the concepts of race and criminality, fixing them into the subconscious of the profiled, the profiler, and society at large.
Keywords: African-American; criminality; criminal propensity; group boundary; group formation; racial profiling; sociology; social closure