The Oxford Encyclopedia of International Criminology

Criminology in the 21st century has gone global. It has increasingly been drawn to thinking and research that addresses criminological matters in international, transnational, and comparative registers. Issues at the intersection of criminology/criminal justice and social forces, economic policies, political conflict, national security concerns, legal changes and reforms, environmental issues, legacies of colonialism, technological developments and more are best understood when framed as global phenomena. The Oxford Encyclopedia of International Criminology includes state of the art essays that offer critical reviews of scholarship - including theoretical, empirical, and methodological work - on crime and victimization and the social and legal responses that both receive; historical, social, cultural, legal, and interpretive processes underlying crime and justice; problems of equity and social transformation that increasingly drive debate and discussions of policy, international law, and political activism. The contributors are established and highly distinguished academics as well as emerging scholars whose work is having an impact on their respective fields. They are an international cast of writers drawn from both the Global North and Global South, representing multiple disciplinary orientations, as well as interdisciplinary perspectives. Aside from covering the major issues in their subject areas and incorporating useful bibliographies, the authors offer guidance on how to further explore the various aspects of the topics. The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Criminology will prove helpful to students, scholars, and the informed public interested in learning about cutting edge issues in the study of crime and justice in a comparative, global context.

Editors in Chief

Edna Erez, Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice, University of Illinois Chicago

Peter Ibarra, Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice, University of Illinois Chicago

Editorial Board

Susanne Yuk-ping Choi, Department of Sociology, Chinese University of Hong Kong

James O. Finckenauer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Criminology, Rutgers University

Elena Marchetti, Griffith Law School, Griffith University

William F. McDonald, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University

Nikos Passas, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University


Rationale for an International Criminology

The heightened significance, and indeed prominence, that international criminology has acquired during the new millennium may have more than a coincidental connection to current global trends. Expanded and affordable travel, digitally accessible scholarship from abroad, and worldwide communication networks and platforms, have generated increased exposure to forms and systems of criminal offending – and the responses they receive – that reach beyond localized realms, resulting in greater awareness of and academic exchanges about trends and developments beyond national borders. Deeper appreciation among nations for the importance of venues aimed at fostering international cooperation around ongoing threats to global security, serious reckoning with the world’s reliance on international trade relations and uninterrupted supply chains, the occurrence of disruptions and possibly permanent alterations to ways of life stemming from social and political upheavals or climate change, and, since COVID-19, sustained appreciation for the importance of public health conditions around the world, has further cleared the ground for an expansive reframing of criminology that is situated within regional, hemispheric, and world-wide levels of inquiry and analysis. Deep and persistent regard for issues of equity—involving recognition of the manifold ways in which structural disadvantages established by legacies of racism and colonialism play out, both in connection with crime and punishment, and in the scholarship that can efface them—has mobilized spirited cadres of scholars to approach criminological topics through a critical globalizing lens. The result has been scholarly production that revisits classical concerns of criminology in more panoramic scope, extracts repressed subjects for a post-colonial accounting, and confronts newly emergent themes that reflect cognizance of trends and developments emanating from our increasingly interconnected, interdependent, and problematized world. The present volume’s contributors capture much of this ferment, offering up to date overviews of findings, developments, and discussions that are driving the field forward.

Scholarly inquiry into international criminology addresses theoretical issues, methodological problems, and debates in the study of law, crime, and criminal justice as viewed through comparative, cross-national, cross-regional, and/or transnational lenses. It investigates at a global level patterns and variations among types of crime and offenders, victims and victimization, criminal justice institutions, and criminal justice processes. Accordingly, the entries in this research encyclopedia focus on summarizing, integrating, and commenting on contributions to the study of criminology with a global circumference. In some cases, the international dimensions are highly developed, in others they are nascent, speaking more to potentials for extension and exploration than realization.

Transnational criminology is focused on issues of crime and justice that cannot be comprehended without reaching beyond national borders and boundaries; the nature of the processes entailed transcend sovereignty. Such phenomena as trafficking – whether in persons, animals, or things, for example – are organized to function and thrive both in ways that evade state authorities and coopt or are otherwise in symbiotic relationship to them. Environmental crimes can manifest themselves precisely at those areas where sovereignty begins and ends – seas, rivers, mountain ranges, and forests. Terrorist networks challenge national security systems and prompt joint international task forces to combat them, as do remote Internet-based cybercrimes that are perpetrated by illegally accessing secured computer networks, which can include attacks on governmental entities, financial institutions, and power grids. Manifestations of transnational crime and justice necessarily requires observation and documentation that surpasses local, national, and even regional levels to fully conceptualize, investigate, and respond to them. 

Comparative criminology involves studying and theorizing about processes, institutions, and outcomes that challenge the generalizability of criminological theories within their purview. Comparative criminology builds off of contrasting case studies, whether based in nations, regions, and hemispheres, and seeks to comprehend how distinctive histories, traditions, and institutions, peripheral or central position within systems of power and influence, access to resources and other measures of wealth, degree of liberalization or industrialization, and other macro, meso or micro factors and dimensions, may account for how documented cases fare with and handle matters like crime and justice. Comparative work is especially important in studies that are influenced by sociology, geography, economics, and political science, but its value is most salient for the continued empirical growth and robust theoretical integration of criminological knowledge. 

The diffusion of Western criminological ideas that have taken root in diverse socio-cultural and political realms has increasingly come under interrogation. That is, in becoming a global, collective enterprise, the discourses and techniques of Western criminology were adopted by scholars from both close and remote nations and regions and adapted to local manifestations of common or functionally equivalent phenomena, permitting testing of key ideas. Certainly, however, since the turn of the millennium, there has been growing recognition of the imposition of ideas, understandings, and theories that largely originated in a narrow range of countries – most commonly the United Kingdom and the United States - that effectively created a kind of epistemic colonization of crime and justice studies beyond the English-speaking world. Such recognition has led to calls to “decolonize” criminology, by valorizing efforts creating intellectual spaces for framing and exploring criminological topics from non-Western and non-hegemonic perspectives. Authors writing in this vein situate Indigeneity and other marginalized positionalities as central to intellectual endeavors that observe, analyze, and reflect on questions of crime and justice. These efforts integrate colonial histories and other social struggles into their accounts, de-centering paradigms originating in an English-speaking world that historically has been dominated by white heterosexual men. The emergence of voices from beyond the peripheries of canonical knowledge production and their infusion into criminology’s collective mission is one of the most bracing developments in global criminology and one of the significant features of the present volume.

The Focal Concerns of an International Research Encyclopedia

As a research encyclopedia, the volume’s articles convey the state of knowledge and discussion among scholars who work in the area that is the respective entry’s subject. Authors generally structured their entries to address subject areas from among a range of focal concerns.

First, definitional and conceptual issues. Matters of definition and conceptualization are important in conveying the shape of a topic or area and its evolution as a subject of study. How are key concepts defined?  Where, when, and why is there consensus about how to define an area’s central concepts and where is there disagreement? How do cultural differences factor into the identification or importance of definitional and conceptual issues? Definitional questions may also be situated in connection with such issues as theoretical divergence, disagreements about measurement/research methods, and differences in national or regional experience, among others.

Second, historical perspective. A historical perspective addresses the chronology of turning points and shifting contexts that shed light on manifestations of the topic as well as frames used to make sense of them.  It addresses such questions as how have manifestations evolved and changed over time? What social or institutional changes contributed to their development, growth, or spread? What central trends are shaping its emerging future?

Third, comparative framing of the topic. Comparative handling of a topic may proceed by way of a regional (e.g., within Eastern Europe or Central America), cross-national (England and Wales vs. the USA), hemispheric (Global North, Global South), global, or transnational lens. Ultimately, the geographic scope of the entries was based on trends in the literature and the contributors’ expertise and considered judgment about the territorial coverage that would permit effective exposition of the issues. 

Fourth, problems of data and evidence. Concerns here pertain to the availability, quality, and comparability of data and evidence to address issues in the various areas examined. Challenges to conducting international, comparative, and transnational research and the prospects for developing sound strategies for handling differences in meanings or uses, and other workarounds that might be required to ensure scholarly fidelity to accuracy and validity in drawing inferences and generalizations given problems of inequivalent and missing data.

Fifth, varieties in manifestations. Patterns and variations are conveyed, with major research findings reported regarding what is known about the nature or meaning of these varieties and the contexts and contingencies that surround them. Here, too, questions of nation and region are critical in presenting the topic and addressing its significance in cross-national or regional context.

Sixth, explanatory frameworks. Theoretical perspectives related to etiology, variations, diffusion, and societal responses are helpful for grasping what is understood to be underlying manifestations of the phenomenon at issue, and guidance is offered regarding the degree of an established or emerging explanatory consensus in the area, as well as outstanding questions remaining or yet to be fully accounted for or resolved. The issue of how well a theoretical perspective has traveled, problems that have been identified in adapting frameworks to contexts beyond those where they originated as well as the promise in so extending them, and the kinds of comparisons that theoretical frameworks have proven to be most useful for pursuing, may be of interest.

Seventh, social justice and equity related matters. Dynamics related to, race and ethnicity, Indigeneity, globalization, power and inequality, and processes of development and underdevelopment can be central to understanding issues of criminological concern. These dimensions may intersect with any of the issues named above.

As contributors to a research encyclopedia, the authors in this volume were given flexibility to develop these focal concerns as they determined most befitting, and, at times, with further nudging from the external reviewers and editorial team. Ultimately, the authors sought to inspire scholars, whether emerging or established, by indicating lacunae in the literature and directions taking hold among active investigators, that might cue how others might frame their own research. These articles are cartographies of sorts, diagramming the landscape of inquiry that has been illuminated, and that which remains to be fully explored.

Special Features of this Volume

Over one hundred scholars contributed to this volume, writing articles focused in their areas of expertise, reporting both as observers and participants on developments in those domains. The scholars hail from a host of disciplines, both from criminology and beyond it, to encompass anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, gender and women’s studies, ethnic studies, and related fields, confirming criminology’s standing as a discipline on the precipice of many fields at once. Taken as a whole, these articles provide glimpses into cross- and inter-disciplinary perspectives on topics that are ordinarily encountered separately, hopefully allowing integrated conceptions of the issues to take root. Further, the contributors also come from all parts of the world, from the Global North and Global South, providing insights into realities that are internationally and comparatively framed, in addition to being interdisciplinary.

All the articles in the volume appear on the companion online site, with live links in citations and figures that can be enlarged (and where there are any color figures, they will appear in color online). It is anticipated that the project will include additional articles as well as updates from volume contributors in the coming years; these will appear in the online version as they come to pass, making this volume a work in progress. This built-in feature is especially noteworthy during a time when so much in the world, and in the world of crime and justice, is in flux. The capacity to incorporate new topics and updated findings into a volume of this scope is essential to meeting its objectives.


Producing a volume of this endeavor’s ambitious scope is trying under ordinary circumstances; to attempt to produce it in the throes of a worldwide pandemic is challenging and ambitious beyond what is reasonable. The pandemic’s impact on scholarly activity manifested itself as many of us found the work and home boundaries that ordinarily allow our work to flow forth suddenly pressured beyond anything we had ever experienced. The pandemic brought not just upheaval owing to living under government-mandated lockdowns or quarantine conditions; it also brought increased demands on our personal lives as we relocated to help family members manage exigencies brought on by the lockdowns or to care for family members stricken with an onerous medical condition, which in some cases even took the lives of those we hold dear.  Having to restructure teaching to online formats and deal with unfamiliar technologies or attend to students heightened needs and concerns (which in some cases forced students to temporarily withdraw from school), likewise diverted our focus away from our ordinary routines. Several contributors withdrew during the year of the pandemic, owing to the resulting crush; others have postponed their entries with plans to have them appear in the online version of this volume.

We are thankful to all the contributors, whose careful overviews of the scholarship on their respective topics have enriched this collection. The articles went through a rigorous review process that involved three layers of review and up to two to three rounds of revision, so we are also indebted to all the external reviewers who provided us on time constructive and thoughtful reviews. We started the project with five dedicated and sophisticated Associate Editors – Susanne Choi, Jim Finckenauer, William McDonald, Elena Marchetti, and Nikos Passas, each of whom contributed enthusiastically and wisely from the onset and most of whom were able to remain throughout the journey to publication, for which we are extremely grateful. Prof. Choi had to resign soon after the commissioned manuscripts started to come in because the tumult from the 2019-2020 student demonstrations that dominated Hong Kong, her home country, made it impossible for her to continue work on the volume. Finally, our contacts at Oxford University Press, Andrew Jung and Anthony Wahl, have been diligent in responding to questions, resolving various issues, and keeping us on top of various aspects related to substance and procedures in producing such a collection. Our thanks and much appreciation thus go to all involved in this unique collection.

Edna Erez & Peter R. Ibarra

April 2021


Crime and Offenders

Criminal Justice Institutions

Criminal Justice Processes

Theory and Methods

Victims and Victimization



Aging in Prison and Corrections Policy in Global Perspectives (Tina Maschi, Keith Morgen, Annette Hintenach, Adriana Kaye)
Attitudes Toward Punishment (Monica M. Gerber)
Bullying in School and Cyberspace (Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ivette Noriega, Daniel J. Flannery)
Community Policing in Comparative Perspective (Jacques de Maillard, Jan Terpstra)
Criminal Governance in Latin America (Jorge Mantilla, Andreas E. Feldmann)
Critical Criminologies (Walter S. DeKeseredy)
Deviant Subcultures in European Context (Alexandra Stupperich, Helga Ihm, Shannon B. Harper)
Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing (Brooke B. Chambers, Joachim J. Savelsberg)
Global Anomie Theory (Anamika Twyman-Ghoshal)
Global Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children (Julie Anne Laser-Maira, Charles E. Hounmenou, Donna Peach)
Global Development and Crime (Mahesh K. Nalla, Gregory J. Howard, Graeme R. Newman)
Global Security Surveillance (Keith Guzik, Gary T. Marx)
Green Criminology in International Perspectives (Ekaterina Gladkova, Alison Hutchinson, Tanya Wyatt)
Hate Crimes in a Cross-Cultural Context (Keller G. Sheppard, Nathaniel L. Lawshe, Jack McDevitt)
Hyperincarceration and Indigeneity (Thalia Anthony, Harry Blagg)
Immigrants and Crime (Daniel L. Stageman)
Indigenous Courts (Valmaine Toki)
Indigenous Peoples and Criminology (Juan Marcellus Tauri)
Institutional Anomie Theory Across Nation States (Andreas Hövermann, Steven F. Messner)
Juvenile Delinquency in an International Context (Katharina Neissl, Simon S. Singer)
Moral Panics and Folk Devils (Nachman Ben-Yehuda)
Narrative Criminology (Lois Presser)
Organized Crime in Asia (Narayanan Ganapathy)
Police Corruption (Leslie Holmes)
Prison Abolition (Kayla M. Martensen, Beth E. Richie)
Proactive Policing and Terrorism (Badi Hasisi, Simon Perry, Michael Wolfowicz)
Procedural Justice in the Criminal Justice System (Elise Sargeant, Julie Barkworth, Natasha S. Madon)
Restorative Justice in Youth and Adult Criminal Justice (William R. Wood, Masahiro Suzuki, Hennessey Hayes)
Selling Sex in a Global Context (Aimee Wodda, Meghna Bhat)
Social Control of Crime in Asia (Hua Zhong, Serena Yunran Zhang)
War, Police, and the Production of Global Social Order (Nicholas Walrath, Travis Linnemann)
White-Collar Crimes Beyond the Nation-State (Nicholas Lord, Yongyu Zeng, Aleksandra Jordanoska)
Youth Violence in Latin America (Arturo Alvarado Mendoza, Gabriel Tenenbaum Ewig)