1. What does Bowling (2011: 362) mean when he describes transnational criminology as involving analysis of the ‘linkages between places’?
Commenting on the differences between transnational and comparative criminology, Bowling writes that, ‘[w]hile comparative criminology seeks to compare one place with another, transnational criminology...explore[s] problems that do not belong exclusively in one place or another and can therefore only be understood by analysing linkages between places’ (2011: 362). For Bowling, it is important to understand the ‘linkages between places’ because the problems explored in transnational criminology cut across borders and involve activities that rely on links between various locations. He explains this further with reference to the following example: ‘Comparative criminology might seek to describe and explain differences in the prevalence of cocaine use in various countries...Transnational criminology, by contrast, might seek to explain the ways illegal drug production, distribution and consumption are linked across time and place’ (2011: 364).
2. What do you understand by the terms powerful offenders, militarised justice, and privatised authority?
Powerful offenders refers to the leaders of all forms of transnational crime, whether state, corporate, or organised.
Militarised justice refers to the increasing shift towards authoritarianism in criminal justice. This includes developments such as an emphasis on policing people rather than policing crime, exclusionary crime prevention, punitiveness and incapacitation.
Privatised authority refers to transnational security companies, organised criminal networks, and global civil society (NGOs), who provide private or community security and ultimately perform a public security function.
3. Why are these three theoretical concepts particularly useful to transnational criminology?
These theoretical concepts help us explore connections between different categories of offenders (state, corporate, organised criminal), groups involved in responding to crime problems (police forces, private security companies, NGOs, and even criminal networks) and concepts (crime, war). The distinctions between these categories have become increasingly blurred, particularly in the context of transnational crime and justice. For example (in the context of groups involved in crime responses), we have read that private security companies like G4S and Serco compete to provide criminal justice services, such as the management of prisons and community sentences; and that state authorities increasingly rely on, and sometimes join forces with, organised crime groups, to regulate local drug markets and other licit and illicit markets.
4. Why is it argued that the ‘mafia paradigm’ is even less relevant to transnational than ‘domestic’ criminology?
The term ‘Mafia paradigm’ depicts organised crime networks as hierarchically structured, whose members have clear positions of power and responsibility, and are violent and hedonistic. Following from this, the assumption is that once the leadership of the criminal network is compromised/apprehended, the network collapses (Duran-Martinez, 2018; Woodiwiss and Hobbs, 2009). Recent transnational criminological research suggests that the ‘mafia paradigm’ is more relevant to earlier periods of time. Research points to the evolution of ‘gangster type’ organised crime networks into something more akin to respected business networks, which adopt the rationality and measured conduct of legitimate business. Members of these new types of organised crime network are not necessarily career criminals but are increasingly law-abiding people who seize the money making and power grabbing opportunities these networks offer to them (Zavala, 2018). This critique is more pertinent when applied to transnational criminal organisations, as not only are they on average larger and more profitable, but their networks are more likely to include people living thousands of miles from each other.
5. Why is it argued that global civil society plays a more important role in policing transnational crime than global governmental institutions like the United Nations?
The answer to the question lies in the nature of transnational crime and its networks. Nowadays, transnational crime increasingly attracts people who are involved in legitimate business and work, with contacts and interests in national and global governmental structures. Corporate and state crime are crimes of the powerful, and the perpetrators of those crimes work for the state and powerful and well-connected businesses. To expect global governmental institutions to police their own members and affiliates and bring them to justice is counterintuitive in many respects. On the other hand, global civil society, represented in well-established organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Greenpeace, can raise awareness of issues of concern and put pressure on (global) government bodies through public and media campaigns.