Crime and Globalisation

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  • Created by: SarahBee
  • Created on: 14-05-15 14:35



Globalisation is the increasing interconnections between societies, so that what happens in one place can be shaped by distant event.


  • The spread of ICT
  • Influence of the global mass media
  • Cheap air travel
  • Migration > people and businesses can easily relocate


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The Global Criminal Economy

Held et al

  • Globalisation of crime > interconnectedness of crime across boarders.
  • Same process that has brought about the globalisation of legitimate activities > spread of transnational organised crime
  • Created new opportunities for crime > new means of committing crime/offences, e.g. cyber crimes


  • Now a global criminal economy > worth £1 trillion+ per year 
  • Activities include > trafficking of cultural artefacts, arms, body parts, women and children (slavery/prostitution), drugs trade, cyber crime (identity theft), smuggling illegal immigrants, money laundering, international terrorism, green crimes
  • Global criminal economy > both supply and demand side
  • E.g. 3rd World drug producing countries such as Colombia > poor population > drug cultivation over traditional crops > 20% of the population depend on cocaine production for their livelihood and it outsells all the countries other exports
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Global Risk Consciousness

  • Risk is global
  • Are they rational? Our knowledge of risk comes mostly from media > are often exaggerated views of danger > media created a moral panic about the supposed ‘threat’ of immigration

Result > the intensification of social control at a national level: 

  • UK > tightened border control regs
  • UK > no legal limit on how long a person may be held in immigration detention.
  • Other European states with land borders > fences, CCTV and thermal imaging

Another result of globalised risk is the increased attempts at international cooperation and control with issues surrounding terrorism, drugs and crime – particularly since 9/11

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Globalisation, Capitalism and Crime

Created crime at both ends of the social scale

Marketisation > encouraged people to see themselves as individual consumers, calculating the personal cost and benefits each action > undermining social cohesion

Left Realists > (such as Taylor) argue that the increasing materialistic culture promoted by the global media portrays success in terms of a lifestyle of consumption > encourages people (poor mostly) to commit crime 

For elite groups > deregulations of financial markets has created opportunities for insider trading and the movements of funds around the globe to avoid taxation.

New patterns of employment > been an increase in the use of subcontracting to recruit ‘flexible’ workers, often working illegally, paid less than minimum wage or breaching health and safety laws

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Patterns of Criminal Organisations

Hobbs and Dunningham

  • Found local crime is organisation > linked to economic changes
  • Increasingly involves individuals with contacts acting as a ‘hub’ around which a network forms > often linking legitimate and illegitimate activities
  • Contrasts with the large scale, hierarchical Mafia style criminal organisations of the past e.g the Krays
  • These forms of organisations > sometimes have international links (esp. with the drugs trade- local contacts and networks needed to sell them).
  • Conclude that crime works as a glocal system > locally based but with global connections > form may vary between places according to local conditions, even if it is at the same time influenced by the global factors
  • Argue that changes associated with globalisation have led to changes in the pattern of crime > shift from hierarchical gang structure to loose networks of opportunistic, entrepreneurial criminal
  • Isn’t clear that such patterns are new, or that old structures have disappeared.
  • Research conclusions are not generalisable to other criminal activities elsewhere, only of the post-industrial town they studied.
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McMafia > linked to fall of communism > linked to globalisation 

Glenny (2008) - Traces the origins of transnational crime to the break-up of the Soviet Union > coincided with the deregulation of the global markets.

After the fall of communism, all sectors of the economy except for natural resources were deregulated. Thus resources such as oil remained at the old (cheap) prices > anyone with access to funds could buy up oil, gas, diamonds or metal and sell them abroad at a huge profit > became Russia’s New Capitalist.

Collapse of communism created a time of increasing disorder > protect their wealth, the capitalists turn to the ‘mafias’ that had sprung up > often alliances between ex-convicts and KGB. Russian mafias were purely economic organisations formed to pursue self-interest. Capitalist were able to protect their wealth and move it out of the country. This therefore enabled the new mafia to build links with other criminal organisations around the world. 

E.g. the Chechen mafia originated in Chechnya, but soon began to ‘franchise’ its operations to non-Chechen groups > became a brand that was sold to protection rackets in other places, as long as they always carried out their word- the brand wouldn’t be damaged. 

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