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The politics of 'transnational organized crime': discourse, reflexivity and the narration of 'threat'

Edwards, Adam Michael ORCID: and Gill, Pete 2002. The politics of 'transnational organized crime': discourse, reflexivity and the narration of 'threat'. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 4 (2) , pp. 245-270. 10.1111/1467-856X.t01-1-00004

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Over the past decade the perceived 'threat' of transnational organised crime (TOC) to the security of western political economies has become a principal issue on the agendas of key international forums such as the United Nations, G7/8 elite industrial countries and the Council of Europe. The intense policy activity around this threat is indicative of a key trend in post-Cold War international relations, that is, the reorientation of western security, intelligence and defence agencies toward crime control. Risk assessments and research evidence provided by international relations departments in higher education institutions, especially in the USA, have been particularly influential in providing the rationale for this reorientation. It is argued here, however, that there is a danger of intellectuals being drawn into the legitimisation of policies the terms of which are defined for them rather than by them. This jeopardises the critical contribution which academic research can make to policy change and learning, in particular it precludes a more reflexive approach to 'evidence-based' government. The paper draws upon discourse analysis and the study of 'governmentality' to develop a more reflexive interrogation of the assumptions underpinning this policy-shift in post-Cold War international relations. This is exemplified through an analysis of the two principal competing discourses on the threat of TOC and these are distinguished in terms of their focus on 'criminologies of the other' and 'criminologies of the self'. The former narrates threats to security in terms of external, nationally and ethnically defined, pressures. The later perceive threats more in terms of the internal challenges now facing 'sovereign' governments struggling to command highly diverse, dynamic and complex social-political problems like organised crime. The ways in which these competing discourses constrain and enable alternative policy responses to TOC are examined.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISSN: 1467-856X
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2022 09:24

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