Crime and Deviance Theme 13 - Global, State and Environmental Crime




  • Anthony Giddens - Globalisation involves time-space distanciationwhich is where events in remote places have a greater impact on our lives here in Britain and vice versa (such as 9/11) and time-space compressionwhich is where the world appears to have shrunk because technology allows us to get information from across the globe more quickly and also to travel to remote places with greater speed and ease
  • Cochrane et al - Globalisation is the emergence of a global economic and cultural system which is incorporating the people of the world into one society. There are many different aspects of gloablisation:                                                                                                                                                                                                     

1. Economic dimension - TNCs operate in more than one counry and production and distribution networks are increasingly international
2. Political dimension - the UN is the most obvious example of an international political system
3. Cultural dimension - with the spread of the media, new ideas spread around the world and new hybrid cultures are creates. This includes the increase in travel and tourism

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Globalisation and Crime

  • There has been an increase in global crime with the increase of globalisation. Sociologists argue that there is now a 'global criminal economy' worth over $1 trillion per annum (s e x and human trafficking, illegal immigration, cyber crime, international terrorism, drugs trading etc.)
  • International Crime (Demand and Supply) - the global criminal economy has both a supply and demand side. Part of the reason for the scale of transnational organised crime is the demand for illegal products in the West. However, organised crime could not exist without supply. People in developing countries get involved in supply side of transnational organised crime because for them, it's about survival and getting out of poverty 
  • Organised Crime (Rise of the Mafia) - international crime networks have grown since the collapse of communism in the 1980s - as governments in Eastern Europe collapsed, the power of organised criminal groups grew. These networks were largely responsible for supplying illegal arms to various states in Africa in the 1990s. These organisations typically have strong links with government officials and businesses in the Eastern bloc 
  • Capitalism and Crime - governments are now less able to control financial transactions across countries, TNCs have been given more freedom to move their manufacturing to the developing world and illegal immigration demonstrates increased global inequality - people are willing to risk their lives to leave behind poverty in search for a 'better life' in the West
  • Policing Global Crime - there is no international criminal justice system that has authority over all of the governments in the world
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State Crime


  • State crime - criminal acts that are largely committed by governments and their officials (e.g. genocide, war crimes, torture and corruption) 
  • Types of state crime include political crimes, economic crimes, social and cultural crimes and crimes by the police                                                                                                                                                                                      


  • Green and Ward - the states defines what is criminal so if the state says something isn't a crime, then it isn't
  • Tombs and Whyte - states can restrict sociologists' access to information or can restrict funding to issues sensitive to the state
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State Crime Case Study - Iraq War 2002

  • The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly that the US-led war on Iraq in 2002 was illegal
  • The invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter 
  • The UK defends its involvement in the war by arguing that Suddam Hussein was in breach of security council resolution 1441 passed in 2002, and of previous resolutions calling on him to give up weapons of mass destruction 
  • The US defends its involvement by arguing that it was an act of self defence, allowed under UN charter, in view of Suddam Hussein's supposed plans to build weapons of mass destruction
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State Crime Case Study - Cambodia

  • The Khmer Rouge held power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979
  • By evacuating urban areas and imposing a system of forced agricultural labour, the regime was probably able to exert 'more power over its citizens than any other state in world history' 
  • The deaths of around 1.5 million Cambodians were partly to do with the deliberate genocide of ethnic minorities and others who were not deemed 'truly Khmer', but mainly due to malnutrition, disease and overworking stemming from the regime's widley unrealistic policies of economic transformation for the country 
  • The regime brought about its own downfall by attacked its much more powerful neighbour, Vietnam, which invaded and installed a new regime. Whilst the Vietnamese-backed army commintted many human rights abuses, some elements of the regime made genuine efforts to promote a respect for rights and the rule of law
  • One of the main areas of criminal activity by the current Cambodian state is the complicity of officials in forced evictions - in 2009, there were at least 27 forced evictions from land involving some 23,000 people 
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Green Crime


  • Most of the threats to human well being and the eco system are now human made rather than natural. Many of the threats to humanity are global rather than local in nature and so, according to Ulrich Bech, we now live in a 'global risk society'
  • He argues that we can now provide adequate resources for the human population, however, the technologies that we have developed to provide us with food, energy and shelter have created new 'manufactured risks'                                                                                                                                                  


  • Traditional criminology argues that criminologists should only focus on the actions that harm the environment if they actually break existing laws - the problem here is that many activities that harm the environment are legal
  • Green criminology starts from the notion of harm rather than criminal law
  • Rob White - the field of environmental or green criminology is an emerging area of interest within criminology
  • Green crime is concerned with the study on environmental harm, laws and regulations by criminologists
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Types of Green Crime

Primary Crimes - these are harmful to the environment but are not necessarily illegal

1. Air Pollution
2. Deforestation
3. Extinction
4. Water Pollution                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Secondary Crimes - when people or organisations flout rules or regulations aimed at preventing environmental disasters

1. State violence against oppositional groups
2. Hazardous waste
3. Dumping

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Marxism and Green Crime

  • According to Marxists, the single biggest cause of Environmental Crimes is Industrial Capitalism, whereby Capitalism expands through convincing people to buy more things; this requires enormous amounts of energy, which creates greenhouse gases and toxic waste as a by-product of the production process.
  • Whether it is a Corporation producing stuff legally or an organised criminal network producing stuff illegally makes little difference, the root cause of our environmental crisis and green crime is Industrial Capitalism which encourages consumption for profit.
  • Given that the primary aim of most governments is achieving economic growth, and the means whereby we achieve this is through producing and consuming things, Marxists would not expect any significant global agreement safeguarding the environment until Capitalism is either eradicated or severely controlled.
  • An important part of a Marxist analysis of green crime is to explore who the victims of green crime are, and the victims of pollution tend to be the poorest in society. 
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