Globalisation – Crime and Deviance

Lesson objectiveTo explore globalisation in crime
Lesson outcomes• Assess how globalisation promotes crime
• Evaluate how globalisation impacts crime
• Explain examples of global crime


Held and McGrew (2007) define globalisation as ‘the widening, deepening, and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness”. 

The nature and extent of global crime

Karofi and Mwanza (2006) and Castells (2010) argue globalisation has led to a global criminal economy creating greater opportunity for expansion. Examples you need to know are cited below: 

International Drug Trade (IDT)

The impact of the IDT on film is apparent by showcasing that the return outweighs the risk (see “American Made”).  Have a look at how different drugs are manufactured and how it uses globalisation here. Take a look at the stretch and challenge documents to help you understand this more – it’s a great idea to get some facts and figures from this to use as AO1. 

Key facts 

The World Drug Report (2007) estimates that $322b each year is the worth of this trade globally. This is greater than 88% of countries’ GDP ← make sure you know what this means. 

Human Trafficking

This involves smuggling people, again take a look about how the media portrays this more negatively than the IDT. Take a look at the film “Taken”. The stretch and challenge video highlights how globalisation forces people into crime.

Key facts 

The National Crime Agency (2014), estimated there were as many as 13000 in the UK who were victims of being trafficked. This site has great facts exploring global trafficking. 


This is where illegal money is taken and manipulated in an attempt to make it look legal. Take a look at the following site which explains the impact on the UK. 

Key facts 

The National Crime Agency (2014), estimated there were as many as 13000 in the UK who were victims of being trafficked. 

Cyber Crime

This has a large definition, but mostly involves using some form of ICT. It is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Detica (2011) highlights that cybercrime costs the uk £27b each year. 

Key facts 

The National Crime Agency (2014), estimated there were as many as 13000 in the UK who were victims of being trafficked.

The transnational organised crime

  • Castells argues that transnational “extending or operating across national boundaries” networks have been created as a result of globalisation.
  •  Farr (2005) suggests that there are two main forms of global criminal networks:
    • Established mafias – e.g. Yakusa, Mafia – mostly organisations with a hierarchical structure.
    • Newer organised crime groups – e.g. Albanian groups like those seen in the film taken. These are not as large or as powerful as established mafias. 
  • Glenny (2009) coined the term “McMafia” which highlights how transnational organised crime mirrors the activities of large transnational corporations like McDonalds. 
  • Hobbs and Dunninhan (1998) state that these networks are also present on a local scale and use the term glocal to show how local and global areas are interconnected in crime. 

How globalisation has affected crime

  • Lash and Urry (1987) use the term “disorganised capitalism” to reflect how globalisation has been promoted by deregulating businesses globally. Taylor (1999) insists that this provides greater opportunity for corporations to commit crimes on a greater scale than before. This leads to most of society lacking what they could have had, forcing them into crime. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, the world’s richest 1 percent, those with more than $1 million, own 44 percent of the world’s wealth. 
  • Widening inequality – Take a look at the following article highlighting how globally the wealth gap is increasing between the rich and poor. 
  • Supply and demand – Globalisation requires more products and this is mostly extorted from poorer countries e.g. Bangladesh making clothes. 
  • More opportunities – The internet, speed and choice people have allows greater opportunities for crime. 
  • Cultural globalisation – Young stipulates that the world is exposed to ideas such as the american dream and for many this is unrealistic e.g. if you’re from Ethiopia. 
  • Growing individualisation – This is where people are taught to be selfish to acquire the dream rather than put the collective first. Bauman (2000) links this to postmodernism. 
  • Global risk society – Beck (1992) argues people become more scared of global crime and thus become more fearful of it.  This leads to hate crimes and scapegoating. 

Evaluation of crime and globalisation

(Good) – This highlights some of the most modern types of crimes. 

(Good) – This is one of the only theories that links globalisation to the growing crime rate. 

(Good) – Globalisation theory has led to a more global law enforcement as a consequence of reducing crime.

(Bad) – Because of how big global crime is, it can be dangerous for sociologists to tackle e.g. investigating the mafia. 

(Bad) – The true link between globalisation and the growing crime rate is ambiguous. It is hard to find out whether local or global factors are more important. 

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