Macro-Lessons from Micro-Crime

Understanding Migrant Crime through the Comparative Examination of Local Markets

in Theoria

Immigration politics are almost universally characterized by their complexity, their ability to raise public passions, and misinformation, often based on generalizations and stereotypes. Recently, immigration has been intrinsically linked to crime, and public agendas have squarely focused on security issues as nativist political forces have successfully created a prominent image of migrants as threats to public security. This article argues that immigrant participation in criminal markets should be studied at the local level, where micro-criminal economies often dominated by migrants actually develop. By examining criminal activity at its base, the article investigates the nature of power in these markets. Specifically, it examines migrant crime in four cities and compares it to migrant integration in regular labour markets. By doing so, the article studies levels of migrant autonomy in both criminal and regular markets and argues that this autonomy indicates whether migrant crime is entrepreneurial or a sign of social deviance.

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Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory