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Article

Patricia (Paddy) Rawlinson

Organized crime is one of the most popular topics of media attention within the crime genre, providing a plethora of fictional representations and factual explanations for popular consumption. Its media presence has not only entertained the public but also interacted with and help form policy responses by governments and law enforcement agencies. Beset by ambiguous definitions and typically operating in a clandestine manner, organized crime has become subject to various forms of mythologizing, romanticized and exaggerated, thrilling and terrifying, emerging as a phenomenon riddled with contradictions yet made consistently attractive by the mystique that dominates media narratives. Blurring the line between fact and fiction as these narratives often do, they can serve or undermine attempts to conceptualize and control organized crime, and in some cases, modify the behavior of criminals themselves. The mythologizing of organized crime has been one of the major challenges for criminologists researching the topic. Unlike many other forms of crime, gaining access to subjects involved in this surreptitious world is especially difficult for academics, consequently conferring exaggerated and misleading media and official representations of organized crime greater currency. Further, with the ostensible explosion of global crime networks, shaped by diverse languages, cultures, and ideologies, gaining a more accurate understanding of the nature of and threat posed by organized crime has become even more problematic. In examining the production and content of the dominant myths around organized crime, the article looks at the impact of media and official representations of these mythologies and how they have helped to preserve the political, social, and economic status quo.

Article

Richard Staring and René van Swaaningen

Despite the dominant notion that people are now allegedly living in the “era of globalization,” accompanied by rosy stories about a “global village,” borders have never lost their significance. On the contrary, the importance of borders has grown significantly under recent global and European crises. Not only have the number of borders increased, but borders also have become fluid as they moved outside national territories in order to protect countries, as well as political and economic unions, against the perceived threats of transnational organized crime, pandemics, unwanted migration, and terrorism. This externalization of borders through (financial) support and bilateral agreements with other countries led to a relocation of borders far beyond the geographical borders of nation states. In addition, borders have been renewed, reinforced, (temporarily) reactivated, and transformed. Specific attention is paid to some developments surrounding borders, including a responsibilization process on border control, in which governments increasingly stimulate or enforce private parties to take up responsibility in controlling their companies, and ultimately their borders, with respect to irregular migration and crime. Borders are also embodied in different kinds of measures and policies of nation-states that guard access of welfare state provisions, and through the merging of criminal law and immigration law (i.e., crimmigration). Finally, the “border industry” means business for construction, infrastructure, biometrics, and identity technology companies, as well as for security forces, research institutes, aid organizations, and human smugglers. The commodification of borders is an ongoing process as envisioned not only in popular culture as music, literature, reality TV and movies, but also in borders that have become important touristic attractions. The framing of borders through this commodification process as inevitable and as a necessity in turn expresses and legitimates current state agendas.