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Article

Anomie Theory  

Jón Gunnar Bernburg

Originating in the tradition of classical sociology (Durkheim, Merton), anomie theory posits how broad social conditions influence deviant behavior and crime. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim was the first to discuss the concept of anomie as an analytical tool in his 1890s seminal works of sociological theory and method. In these works, anomie, which refers to a widespread lack of commitment to shared values, standards, and rules needed to regulate the behaviors and aspirations of individuals, is an intermediate condition by which social (dis)organization impacts individual distress and deviant behavior. An observant of the massive social changes of 19th-century Europe, Durkheim argued that anomie resulted from rapid social change and the weakening of traditional institutions, in particular the reduced authority of such institutions in the economic sphere, as well as changes in the principles underlying social inequality. A few decades later, the American sociologist Robert Merton re-formulated anomie theory, arguing how a particular malintegration of the culture-structure constitution of modern society produces high rates of crime. Echoing selected themes in Durkheim’s work, and discussing the United States as a prime example, Merton argued how a shared overemphasis on monetary success goals undermines individual commitment to social rules, and generates a particularly acute strain on individuals in disadvantaged social positions. Thus having implications for research on crime rate differences between societies as well as between individuals and groups within the society, anomie theory has inspired a broad range of both macro- and micro-level applications and extensions. On the one hand, the theory has shaped studies of crime rates across large social units, such as countries and metropolitan areas. Such research, while often limited in terms of the types of crime that can reliably be compared across large social units, has linked crime with economic inequality, materialistic values, the institutional dominance of market-driven processes and values, and rapid social change. An important development in this tradition is the advent of multilevel research that links societal factors with individual normlessness, strain, and criminal behavior. On the other hand, micro-level implications of anomie theory, often referred to as classic strain theory, have shaped studies of individual and group differences in criminal behavior within societies. This type of work often studies youths, at times bringing in notions of gangs, subculture, and differential opportunities, focusing on the criminogenic effects of strain stemming from opportunity blockage and relative deprivation. Yet the work rarely examines individual normlessness as an intermediate process linking social structure and delinquency. Finally, anomie theory has been extended and applied to research on business/corporate and white-collar crime. While more research is needed in this area, the extant work suggests how anomie theory provides a particularly powerful explanation of national-level differences in business/corporate crime (e.g., bribery). The article concludes by noting that an increased emphasis on multilevel research may lead to an integration of the macro-level and micro-level extensions and applications of anomie theory in the future.

Article

Armed Robbery (Commercial)  

Rob Hornsby and Dick Hobbs

The United Kingdom has seen the rise and subsequent demise of armed robbery by serious and organized criminals. The emergence of armed robbery must be considered within a context of criminal progression forged by the wider political economy and its developments, which shape the opportunities and characteristics of professional criminals. The shift from a cash-based economy towards a credit-constructed economic milieu witnessed the demise of craft crimes such as safe-cracking and the growth of project-based criminality such as armed robbery. The subsequent decline in professional armed robbers attacking banks, post offices, building societies, and cash-in-transit targets can be regarded as the result of control-of-crime strategies and situational crime prevention tactics. There has been increasing use of security measures, including (but not exclusively) within the banking sector, such as in-house closed-circuit television (CCTV), indelible dyes for tainting stolen money, and wider “risk society” measures including, for example, widespread street CCTV, automated number plate recognition, and an increasing shift to credit or debit card transactions. This approach to situational crime control has been successful, leading “elite” professional criminals to seek alternative illicit opportunities and leaving contemporary armed robbers, generally amateurs, deskilled and often desperate individuals.

Article

Biosocial Theories in Criminology  

Jessica Wells and Anthony Walsh

While the roots of criminology largely lie in sociological explanations for crime and delinquency, a resurgence has begun wherein human behavior is explained as a product of both environmental and biological factors: biosocial criminology. Biosocial criminology encompasses many perspectives that seek to explain the relationships between human behavior and genes, evolution, neurobiology, and more. While biosocial criminology does not have a long history in the broader field of criminology, modern advances in technology have made access to data to explore biosocial criminological questions far more readily available. Advanced technology, coupled with studies suggesting that a large proportion of the variance in antisocial behavior is attributable to genetic factors has spurred many criminologists to explore how both nature and nurture influence behavior. A wide variety of perspectives is apparent within biosocial criminology. These perspectives can be seen as tools to uncover different elements of the equation seeking to understand human behavior. Behavior genetic studies seek to explain what proportion of the variation in a trait or behavior is due to genetic factors. Molecular genetic studies seek to uncover which genes are related to that trait or behavior and how strongly they are associated. Evolutionary psychology seeks to explain why a trait or behavior emerged and remained through the process of natural selection. Neurobiological studies explain how the complex structure and function is related to traits and behavior. While these perspectives vary widely in their approach, one fact remains: neither environmental nor biological explanation for human behavior is sufficient on its own; rather, the complex interplay between environments and biology is critical to advance knowledge about the causes and correlates of criminal and delinquent behavior.

Article

Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies  

Hugo Goeury

In the mid-1970s, the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), which came to be known as the “Birmingham School,” published two major books that contributed substantially to the field of critical criminology: Resistance Through Rituals (RTR) and Policing the Crisis (PTC). These two groundbreaking and complementary works aimed to contribute to the two main topics of criminological enquiry: deviance/crime and social reaction/punishment. In both cases, the Centre deployed a Marxist-inspired and sociologically driven approach whose main objective was to study both deviance and social reaction from a critical perspective that takes into consideration the broader social, political, economic, and cultural context in which they take place. RTR challenged the dominant discourse of the postwar era, which proclaimed the end of class antagonism and the exhaustion of “class” as a relevant social category. The Birmingham School’s research demonstrated that the many subcultures—punks, mods, teddy boys, rastas, etc. —that flourished in the United Kingdom at the time were not symptomatic, as many argued, of the rise of a “classless youth.” On the contrary, RTR made the case that subcultures are part of a century-long tradition of symbolic, working-class resistance against the hegemonic order. From this perspective, subcultures were seen as an attempt, on the part of working-class youths, to solve the many contradictions of their class experience at a time of broad, multidimensional changes. While the Birmingham School’s work on subcultures was a celebration of working-class resistance and agency, ultimately, it reached the conclusion that this form of resistance, which remained restricted to the symbolic sphere, could not offer a solution to the exploitation and oppression faced by working-class youth, which stemmed from the material, social relations of production of capitalism. While RTR focused on “deviance,” PTC shifted the analysis to the other side of the equation, that of social reaction and punishment. In this second publication, Stuart Hall and his co-authors developed an impressive “conjunctural analysis” approach that allowed them to move from the study of the so-called “mugging crisis” of the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, to the elaboration of their groundbreaking theory on crisis of hegemony and the rise of a new, “law and order society.” PTC is one of the pioneering studies that argued that the rise of “authoritarian populism” and the birth of a “law and order society” that were taking place in the United Kingdom in the 1970s were not temporary phenomena but were representative of a long-lasting change of epoch. More than 40 years after the publication of this seminal work, it leaves no doubt that the Birmingham School’s predictions have been validated, as is corroborated by an extensive literature studying the “punitive turn” that has taken over the globe over the last few decades. Overall, at a time when criminology was becoming increasingly dominated by positivism and disconnected from the sociological tradition, the Birmingham School’s most influential and long-lasting legacy resides in RTR and PTC’s invitation to critically investigate what the CCCS members called the “social and political ‘conditions of existence’” of both deviance/crime and social reaction/punishment.

Article

Bullying in School and Cyberspace  

Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ivette Noriega, and Daniel J. Flannery

For students, bullying is a significant problem, especially in middle school: up to half of students are involved, either as a bully, a victim, or a bystander. The effects of bullying range from negligible to very severe, including individual psychological difficulties as well as consequences for criminogenic behavior. Theories to explain multidetermined bullying behavior include ecological as well as family-based approaches. Bullying must contain the following elements: unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or groups of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. This definition describes traditional bullying, in which a person or persons can be seen to be engaged in bullying behavior. Since the late 1990s, cyberbullying has been on the rise. Traditional bullying and cyberbullying differ in the following ways: (a) cyberbullying often means the victim does not know who the bully is; (b) cyberbullying is not a discreet incident; it can be preserved in cyberspace indefinitely; (c) anger rumination, anxiety, depression, and suicidality are more prevalent among cyberbully victims; (d) cyberbullies can exhibit decreased empathy for others relative to traditional bullies; and (e) longitudinal research has found some support that cyberbullies may develop delinquent behaviors in adulthood. Bullying affects a significant proportion of students, between 18% and 31% of students in the United States are likely to be involved in traditional bullying, whereas rates of cyberbullying involvement are close to 59%. Any participation in bullying can affect youth negatively. Being either a bully or a victim can lead to depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Being a perpetrator of bullying and cyberbullying may also increase the likelihood of criminal activity in young adulthood. According to the path analytic model of juvenile delinquency, it is likely that association with delinquent peers and parenting style are related to bullying behavior. Prevention and intervention programs have had some positive effects. Prevention and intervention efforts should concentrate on universal dissemination of effective strategies, including that cyberbullies are not really anonymous. Family and school-based interventions can strengthen adult support while encouraging programs that teach children to respect each other, promoting prosocial development. For traditional bullying, school climate programs in primary school have shown positive effects. Interventions for traditional bullying that are based in family therapy have shown success. Due to the novelty of cyberbullying, few intervention studies are available as yet. Efforts to prevent cyberbullying include setting up anonymous tiplines in schools and sharing up-to-date technological advances with parents so that they can implement those blocks that are available. Finally, there are no specific federal laws in the United States addressing bullying; however, federal regulations do exist to provide frameworks for anti-discrimination laws pertaining to protected classes. Although there are no explicit federal regulations that address bullying, state and local policies have been key components in addressing bullying issues. There has been some evidence that suggest that anti-bullying laws and policies in schools may decrease bullying perpetration. Countries including New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden have passed specific laws to address bullying, while some countries apply laws created to address other infractions to include bullying.

Article

The Characteristics of Illegal Markets  

Matías Dewey

The phenomenon of illegal markets is pervasive. The circulation of illegal goods and services reaches all social segments, crosses national boundaries, and produces enormous revenues. Scholarship has typically addressed issues of illegal exchanges by focusing on criminal organizations, their members’ activities, internal structures, and businesses while leaving the very notion of illegal markets conceptually underdeveloped. Different from organized crime, the notion of “illegal market” compels us to consider the demand side and to investigate the varied ways it relates to the supply side. Following the path opened up by economic sociology scholarship, this article brings illegal markets to the center of the scene in order to develop them conceptually, observe them in a differentiated way, and investigate their relationships with legal structures. From this perspective, the social organization of markets comes to the fore, highlighting such aspects as the formal and informal institutions sustaining illegal markets; the modes of internal coordination that deal with problems such as value, competition, or trust; moral attitudes toward the production, exchange, or consumption of certain products or services; the cultural elements or cognitive dispositions that promote illegal exchanges; the role of state power in defining what is and is not illegal, and thus how it controls certain exchanges; and the role of the enforcement of the law in the emergence, expansion, or extinction of these markets.

Article

Child Sexual Exploitation  

Jonah R. Rimer

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a broad term that refers to a form of child sexual abuse (CSA) involving some combination of particular elements including power imbalance, grooming, manipulation, coercion, deception, fraud, force, threats, exchange, or status. Definitions, research, and resources are inconsistent and often conflate different kinds of CSE and CSA, making the concept difficult to generalize and questioning the utility of separating CSE from CSA. There are also persistent misunderstandings and myths that continue to pervade society, including “stranger danger” and the notion that CSE cannot happen in one’s own community, which have potential to negatively impact community protective behaviors. There are multiple kinds of CSE, both offline and online, and demarcating offline and online is not always possible or advisable. More than one type of CSE may be present in a single case because they are not mutually exclusive. These include child sexual exploitation material (CSEM), livestreaming, capping, online sexual solicitation and child luring, sextortion, commercial sexual exploitation, CSA tourism, human trafficking, and forced marriage. Common among these, although potentially in different forms, is a process of grooming. Because CSE is diverse, it is difficult to generalize about offenders and victims. However, victims are more likely to be female, whereas offenders are more likely to be male. Also common across crime types are a host of social, emotional, personal, and physical effects on and consequences for victims, some of which may be exacerbated if there are online elements such as images or videos. Current best practice suggests that responding to victims should be done through a trauma-informed approach that avoids victim-blaming. For offenders, risk management is done through assessments, post-release laws, and treatment, all of which have their own limitations. Because CSE is complex and includes a range of crimes, different theoretical and conceptual perspectives can be applied to the topic. Some of these focus on sexual offending against children generally, whereas others situate CSE within more macro structures. These theories and perspectives include Lanning’s situational versus preferential offender typology, the psychological concept of “cognitive distortions,” Finkelhor’s model of preconditions to CSA, the Good Lives Model of offending and rehabilitation, ecological systems theory, criminological perspectives that emphasize situational and environmental factors, and anthropological perspectives on the internet. Prevention of CSE victimization should be evidence-based and not founded on misconceptions or myths; however, not all prevention programs have engaged with realistic and accurate understandings of CSE. Overall, CSE is complex, and nuance is required in research, practice, and policy to reflect this complexity.

Article

Child Terrorists and Child Soldiers  

Susanne Martin

Children are often the most vulnerable victims of war. In some cases, they are also among the perpetrators of violence. Child soldiers and child terrorists are simultaneously victims and victimizers, in some ways symbolizing the depravity and desperation of modern warfare as it is practiced in many parts of the world. Children’s roles as combatants are even more concerning when the children are very young. How do children come to fill these positions? Why do children join armed groups, and why do armed groups seek to employ children? In fact, children become militants for various reasons, most of which have little to do with “choice.” While some youths choose violence, many children’s options are limited by the contexts in which they live, their socialization or the conditioning they receive, and the cruel and coercive tactics used by armed groups, which include kidnapping and force. Armed groups employ children for their own benefit, and although children may appear weak and unskilled, they also offer unique strategic advantages to the groups employing them. Children are, by some estimates, easier to control, cheaper to employ, and easier to replace than their adult counterparts. The implications of childhood soldiering and children’s involvement in terrorism include ongoing warfare and conflict in places with weak or failed states, where societies are already struggling. The violence is particularly harsh on civilian populations, the primary targets of the violence of weak armed groups. Populations suffer displacement and poverty, and their children remain at risk of recruitment, lost lives, and lost futures.

Article

Conceptualizing Radicalization in Comparative Context  

Sophia Moskalenko

Since the attacks of 9/11, research on radicalization has burgeoned. Most theories of radicalization postulate multiple pathways to radicalization, grievance as a major radicalizing force, emotion rather than ideology precipitating radicalization, and small-group dynamics contributing to radicalization. Empirical data have consistently supported the distinction between activism and radicalism and between radical opinion and radical action. Research into the special category of the radical actor, or lone attackers, uncovered two possible profiles: disconnected-disordered and caring-compelled, each motivated by a kind of disordered emotional state. Internet and social media have amplified and broadened radicalization of both opinion and action. Extrapolating from these findings to the recent increase in right-wing radicalization, a new definition of radicalization is proposed, suggesting a shift in researchers’ and policymakers’ focus from identifying instances of radicalization to identifying its causes. In this conceptual view, radicalization is a result of perceived widespread injustice, where shared narratives highlight grievances (radicalization of opinion) and motivate a few to act against perceived perpetrators (radicalization of action). Implications for research and policy are discussed.

Article

Crime, Diversity, Culture, and Cultural Defense  

Clara Rigoni

Contemporary societies are culturally diverse. This diversity can be the result of different historical and social processes and might affect the uniformity and efficiency of criminal justice systems. Colonization of indigenous populations that started in the 15th century later European colonization of Africa and migration flows following the Second World War have contributed to this diversity in different ways. The growing importance acquired by culture in the criminal law domain went hand in hand with the attention received by it both in the human rights field (especially linked to minority rights) and in the field of sociological and criminological theories. Nowadays, crimes such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and other behaviors grounded in “culture or tradition” form the object of several international human rights instruments and media reports. The way in which criminal justice systems deal with such cases, and more in general with cultural factors, varies greatly. Different instruments have been proposed to allow the consideration of cultural elements within criminal proceedings among which (in common law countries) is the formalization of an autonomous “cultural defense.” However, international human rights instruments, especially those protecting the rights of vulnerable subjects such as women and children, have repeatedly discouraged states to take into account “culture, religion, and tradition” as grounds for justification (see, e.g., the Istanbul Convention). Criminal proceedings are not the only setting to deal with culture and crime. More recently, the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and restorative justice both within formal and informal (community) settings have given an additional option to take culture into account in the resolution of disputes (in terms of procedures used and normativities in play). Concerns exist with regard to the substantive and procedural rights of participants to these programs. However, these alternatives could represent a way to allow a certain degree of legal pluralism and facilitate access to justice for minority groups.

Article

Crime Pattern Theory  

Paul Brantingham and Patricia Brantingham

A broad understanding of crime requires explanations for both the origins of individual and group criminal propensity and when and where criminal events occur. Crime pattern theory provides explanations for the variation in the distribution of criminal events in space and time given a range of different propensities. In the organization of their everyday lives, both occasional and persistent criminals spend most of their time engaged in the same legitimate everyday activities as everyone else. The location of criminal events in space–time are shaped by these everyday activities and the specific criminal’s activity. Occasional and persistent offenders develop activity spaces and awareness spaces. The shape and dynamics of these spaces is influenced by the structures of human settlements that channel and limit movement patterns in time and space. These structures include the built environments and the socioeconomic and cultural environments in which people live, work, or go to school, and in which they spend their social, entertainment, and shopping time. Crime pattern theory utilizes the major components of the built and social environment—activity nodes, paths between nodes, neighborhoods and neighborhood edges, and the socioeconomic backcloth—in conjunction with the routine movements of the population in general to understand crime generator and crime attractor locations and the formation of repeat areas of offending for individuals and groups of offenders as well as more aggregate crime hot spots and cold spots. This information is translated into a geometry of crime that describes the journeys to crime by individual criminal offenders and groups of offenders and their victims or targets. Crime pattern theory explains the process of criminal target search, suggests strategies for crime reduction, and describes potential displacements of criminal events in space and time following changes in the suitability of targets or target locations at particular places and specific times.

Article

The Criminalization of Immigration  

Jennifer M. Chacón

The regulation of immigration in the United States is a civil law matter, and the deportation and exclusion of immigrants from the United States are matters adjudicated in civil, administrative courts operated by the federal government. But migration in the United States is increasingly managed not through the civil law system, but through the criminal legal system, and not just at the federal level, but at all levels of government. The most obvious example of the management of migration through the criminal law in the United States occurs through the federal prosecution of immigration crimes. In the 2010s, federal prosecutions of immigration crimes reached all-time record highs, as immigration offenses became the most commonly prosecuted federal criminal offenses. But it is not just the federal government, using federal criminal prosecutions, that has moved criminal law and criminal law enforcement agents to the center of immigration enforcement in the United States. The federal government relies on state and local police to serve as front-line agents in the identification of noncitizens potentially subject to removal. Everyone arrested by state and local law enforcement for any reason has their fingerprints run through federal law databases, and this has become the leading screening mechanism through which the federal government identifies individuals to target for removal. Federal law also relies on state law convictions as one of the primary means through which federal immigration enforcement officials determine which noncitizens to remove. This means that state legislatures and state and local governments have the power to shape both their criminal laws and their discretionary enforcement choices to either enhance or mitigate the scope of federal immigration enforcement in their jurisdictions. The problems of racial inequity in the U.S. criminal legal system are both exacerbated by and fuel the centrality of immigration enforcement to the nation’s law enforcement agenda. Racial profiling is broadly tolerated by law in the context of immigration enforcement, making it easy for officials at the state and federal level to justify the targeting of the Latinx population for heightened surveillance on the theory (often incorrect) that they are unlawfully present. At the same time, the overpolicing of Black communities ensures that Black immigrants as well as Latinx immigrants are disproportionately identified as priorities for removal. Immigration enforcement is frequently written out of the story of racial inequality in U.S. policing, but the criminalization of migration is a central architectural feature of this inequitable system.

Article

Cybercrime Perpetration Theories  

Theodore Curry

Theories of cybercrime perpetration seek to identify and explain the causes of individual- and/or group-level variation in the performance of cybercriminal behavior. Fundamental to this effort is a debate pertaining to whether extant theories of crime, previously developed to explain crime in the physical world, are useful for accounting for cybercrime or whether new theories, explicitly aimed at cybercrime, are needed. This debate hinges largely on the question of whether cybercrimes can be considered to be a type of crime in general, or whether there are features of cybercrime, such as the lack of physical contact between victims and offenders or the dissociative anonymity afforded by the collapse of time-space barriers that occurs in cyberspace, that sufficiently differentiate cybercrime from crime in the physical world such that new theories are needed to explain its occurrence. To date, however, scholars have relied almost exclusively on extant theory in cybercrime studies and only one new theory has been developed that focuses exclusively on cybercrime. Moreover, cybercrime theory has focused heavily on individual-level variation in cybercrime and largely ignored group-level variation, which is a shortcoming because understanding differences across, for example, different nations or political or religious groups, is an important part of the study of crime in the physical world. Another important problem is that basic facts about cybercriminals and victims (e.g., the approximate proportion of offenders who are male or female) are largely unknown due to a lack of systematically collected, representative, or longitudinal data on cybercrime—a situation that hinders the development of cybercrime theory. Research testing cybercrime theory shows support for a number of theories from the field of criminology, especially general strain, low self-control, social learning, and techniques of neutralization and drift. A notable development in this literature are findings that social learning and low self-control theories, working in an integrated fashion, are found to provide an especially useful explanation for cybercrime such that, on their own, individuals with low self-control may not engage in a great deal of cybercrime owing to the complexity that such offending often entails. However, if low self-control individuals have friends who engage in cybercrime, they may learn the skills needed to commit certain cybercrimes and, as a result, start offending at higher levels. Psychological studies also provide important results, including that cybercriminals tend to be more introverted than offenders in the physical world, which may tap into the dissociative anonymity afforded by offending in cyberspace. Psychological research also shows that individuals with higher levels of psychopathy are more involved in cybercrimes, particularly those that entail aggression or attempts to cause harm to others, and that more impulsive (a concept that is similar to low self-control in criminology) individuals engage in more cybercrime.

Article

Cyberpolicing  

Jin R. Lee

Cybercrime is generally understood as behaviors that involve the use of virtual environments and/or networked computer systems to generate harm. This broad definition of cybercrime captures a variety of different online behaviors, including interpersonal violence offenses such as cyberbullying and online harassment, as well as those involving the unauthorized use and access of computer systems such as malware dissemination, ransomware, and distributed denial of service attacks. Cybercrimes are policed by both law enforcement (e.g., local, state or provincial, federal) and extralegal agencies. Local law enforcement agencies are composed of police officers, who are generally tasked with maintaining public order within a specific municipality or county, including investigating crimes, apprehending offenders, and implementing crime prevention mechanisms (e.g., educating the public on available resources; proactive neighborhood patrol) within their local jurisdiction. State and provincial law enforcement agencies are larger police forces that are generally responsible for conduct that occurs within their wider state and provincial borders, including conducting highway traffic control and providing forensic services to smaller local agencies residing within their state or province. State and provincial agencies often become involved only when local forces are limited in their resources to adequately respond to an incident or when local jurisdictional conflicts exist. Federal agencies operate at the highest level of law enforcement, because they deal with crimes that involve homeland security. In fact, federal agencies can obtain cooperation among several national jurisdictions depending on existing political ties and extradition agreements. Several extralegal agencies (e.g., Internet Crime Complaint Center; Computer Emergency Response Teams) are also active in responding to cybercrime incidents. These agencies, which may develop from either public or private sectors, generally perform acts that support law enforcement, including facilitating communication and information sharing between victims and law enforcement agencies. Despite efforts to sanction online offenses, research suggests that cybercrimes present several challenges for law enforcement agencies across all levels of government. First, cybercrime offenders often anonymize their attacks and offline identities, making arrests and criminal prosecutions extremely challenging. Second, even if offenders and their actions are identified, agencies are limited by their geographic location and jurisdiction. Third, the technical nature of cybercrime means that victims may not be aware of their victimization until months after the attack, which may affect the identification of digital evidence necessary to prosecute an offender. Fourth, law enforcement officers may not possess the knowledge and expertise needed to secure and investigate a digital crime scene adequately. One approach that could improve how cybercrimes are enforced and regulated is the paradigm of evidence-based policing (EBP). EBP is a collective effort involving law enforcement agencies, academic researchers, and industry personnel/practitioners, whose central focus is to develop a robust evidence base that can identify current and emerging problems in policing, examine possible solutions to these problems using rigorous scientific methods, and monitor these solutions over extended periods of time to ensure successful outcomes are maintained. Knowing which operational practices work best in different situations will not only lead to a more intentional use of officers’ time and agency resources but also strengthen public perceptions of law enforcement in responding to cybercrime calls for service.

Article

Epidemiological Criminology  

Ali Rowhani-Rahbar and Haylea Hannah

Health and crime are interrelated in numerous ways. Criminal offending can influence health outcomes, while health and well-being can change the likelihood of criminal offending. In addition, tools of the criminal justice system can affect health, while health policy may influence criminal offending. Notably, the tools of the public health and criminal justice system can work synergistically or antagonistically to impact both health and crime outcomes. Epidemiological criminology (EpiCrim) has been viewed as a paradigm linking the methods of public health with those of the criminal justice system and integrating epidemiological theories and practices with their corresponding theories and tools in criminology. The specific contribution of this framework is toward the development of strategies and interventions that address multiple factors underlying health and criminal behavior at different biopsychosocial levels. The overarching premise of this paradigm is that sustained and intentional efforts toward applying the principles of EpiCrim could improve health and well-being and reduce criminal behavior in manners that exceed the contribution of each field separately.

Article

Ethnography and the Study of Gangs  

Robert J. Durán

The study of gangs has emerged alongside the use of a research methodology known as ethnography. Ethnography is based on participant observation and interviews to provide a detailed description of a wide variety of social groups and settings. The researcher is trained to immerse himself or herself into the setting and group of interest and to learn the way participants think and feel. The origins of ethnography date back to W. E. B. Du Bois and the Atlanta School along with the University of Chicago, known as the Chicago School. Gang research began in the 1920s in the city of Chicago with additional studies emerging in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. Ethnographic researchers learned to rely on key participants to provide access to social settings and social groups, often very different from those of the researcher. The social work orientation of reaching out to gang members through the use of gang workers allowed researchers the opportunity to obtain additional forms of access. Nevertheless, the principal investigator remained the source for interpretation of the data and results. In the 1970s and 1980s greater awareness developed regarding the role of insiders and outsiders to particular groups and settings. In response, researchers moved ethnography into one of three strands of discovery: (1) cultivating an outsider role to present a non-threatening presence; (2) working in collaboration with gang members; and (3) attempting to nurture an insider status through enhanced membership roles. Contemporary gang ethnographies have moved toward utilizing mixed methodological designs as highlighted by the Eurogang program and more critically approached strategies emerging in the United States. In addition, research in Latin America has provided a greater form of reflexivity as primarily white researchers have outlined their initial standing in the community and how they have worked to develop rapport. Ethnography continues to be of importance for the study of gangs but has increasingly become more conscious as toward how personal biographies and backgrounds shape the data collection process. In so doing, ethnography has become more focused on reducing bias and increasing ethical forms of justice.

Article

The Extent and Nature of Gang Crime  

Lauren Magee and Chris Melde

Street gangs have been the focus of attention for over a century, largely due to their reputation for involvement in illegal activities, especially violence. Indeed, gangs use this reputation for violence as a means of survival, as they seek to intimidate others in order to protect their members from attacks from rival gangs, and to limit the willingness of community members to cooperate with law enforcement officials. Research on the nature of these groups suggests they thrive in marginalized communities, where there are high rates of poverty, family instability, and limited institutional support. Much of the information on street gangs stems from data collected in the United States, but these groups have been documented across the globe in not insignificant numbers. While gangs certainly differ in their structure and organizational capacity, these groups are routinely associated with a disproportionate involvement in delinquent and criminal acts at the local level. Perhaps most concerning, gangs and gang members are known to be associated with substantially higher rates of interpersonal violence, including homicide, than non-gang-involved persons. From a developmental perspective, even brief periods of gang membership have been found to have negative consequences across the early portion of the life course, including reduced educational attainment, lower income, family instability, and a higher likelihood of arrest and incarceration. Overall, the negative effects gangs have on communities appears to outweigh any of the short-term benefits these groups provide their members.

Article

Gang Joining  

James A. Densley

This article examines the who, what, where, when, why, and how of gang joining. The question of what youth join when they join gangs speaks to the contested nature of gang definitions and types and the consequences of gang membership, specifically heightened levels of offending and victimization. The type of gang and the obligations of membership influence the joining process. Where youth join gangs, namely, the neighborhood and social context, also impacts individual opportunities and preferences for joining. When youth join gangs is considered in a developmental sense, to include both adolescent and adult onset, in order to account for continuity and change in individual levels of immersion or “embeddedness” in gangs across the life course. Who joins gangs provides a profile of gang membership grounded in the well-documented risk factors for gang membership, but limited by problems of prediction. Why youth join gangs speaks to the push and pull factors for membership, the appeal of gangs, and the selective incentives they offer. Still, motivations for gang membership cannot fully explain selection into gangs, nor can general theories of crime that do not necessarily fit with general knowledge of gangs. How youth join gangs, for example, is more complicated than initiation rites. The mechanisms underlying the selection process can be understood through the lens of signaling theory, with implications for practice.

Article

Gang Organization and Gang Types  

Christian L. Bolden

Gang organization has been an aspect of research that is often explored and debated. The concept of organization is intertwined with questions of whether gangs have leaders, whether gangs can be considered organized crime, which groups are actually street gangs, and other related questions. Though there are some crossover categories, street gangs are viewed as distinctly different than organized crime groups, prison gangs, outlaw motorcycle clubs, skinheads, stoners, and taggers. Gang structures are widely varied, with a few being highly organized and most being loose networks of associates. The organization of a gang may change over time. There is an array of membership types that range from core members who might maintain affiliation well into adulthood to temporary members who only spend a short time in the gang. Gangs may have sub-group clique structures based on age-graded cohorts, neighborhoods, or criminal activity. Leadership roles in gangs rarely take the form of a recognizable figurehead. These variations have led to a plethora of gang categories that include evolutionary typologies that place gangs by their stage in criminal sophistication, behavioral typologies that identify gangs by the type of criminal behavior the members engage in, and structural typologies that differentiate gangs by the characteristics of their composition. It is important to note that most of the following gang typologies are focused on gangs in the United States and may not be as relevant in other countries. Major gang affiliations are also explored. Like other aspects of organizations, affiliations are not stable, as gang alliances are volatile. Despite the ability of affiliations to fluctuate, this categorization strategy is commonly used outside of academic research.

Article

Gangs and Globalization  

Alistair Fraser and Elke Van Hellemont

It has been a century since Frederic Thrasher researched his pioneering text on youth gangs in Chicago. In it he depicts gangs as a street-based phenomenon that emerged from the combined forces of urbanization, migration, and industrialization—with new migrant groups seeking to find a toehold on the American Dream. Gangs were discrete and highly localized, drawing on names from popular culture and the neighborhood, seeking ways to survive and thrive amid the disorganization of the emerging city. In the 21st century, street gangs have been identified in urban contexts all over the world and have become increasingly viewed as a transnational phenomenon that is qualitatively different from Thrasher’s neighborhood groups. Processes of globalization have created a degree of flow and connectedness to urban life that is unlike any other stage in human history. Yet a close reading of Thrasher shows that some of the key themes in the study of gangs in a global context—urban exclusion, grey economies, human mobility, and cultural flow—were presaged in Thrasher’s work. In a global era, however, these processes have intensified, amplified, and extended in ways that could not have been predicted. We elaborate the spatial, economic, social, cultural, and technological implications of globalization for gangs across five principle areas: (1) Gangs in the Global City; (2) Gangs, Illicit Markets, and the Global Criminal Economy; (3) Mobility, Crimmigration, and the “Transnational Gang”; (4) Gangs and Glocalization; and (5) The Gang Mediascape. Taken together, these themes seek to offer both a conceptual vocabulary and empirical foundation for new and innovative studies of gangs and globalization. Empirical evidences from Europe, the United States, and beyond, emphasize the uneven impacts of globalization and the ways in which national and cultural dynamics are implicated in the study of gangs in the 21st century.