Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 23–38 | Cite as

Organized crime and ethnic reputation manipulation

  • Frank Bovenkerk
  • Dina Siegel
  • Damián Zaitch


Criminologists often use culture andethnicity to explain crime. In thistradition, organized crime is presentedwith an exotic flavor and the list oftransnational criminal organizations readslike an inventory of ethnic minorities andforeign groups. But the relation betweenethnicity and organized crime isproblematic to say the least. In the courseof our research on several groups active inthe Netherlands (Turkish and Kurdish heroindealers, Yugoslav and Russian-speaking mafiosi, Colombian cocaine dealers andNigerian prostitutes), we have learned toreverse the assumed causal relationship.Ethnic reputation manipulation is essentialto committing crime. This article arguesthat criminal groups and individualsexploit and construct ethnicity in variousways as they engage in criminal activities.Either concealing or emphasizing specificethnic reputations, they are able toaddress any number of audiences (insiders,outsiders, the law).


Cocaine Ethnic Minority Organize Crime International Relation Criminal Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Bovenkerk
    • 1
  • Dina Siegel
    • 1
  • Damián Zaitch
    • 1
  1. 1.Rijksuniversiteit UtrechtWillem Pompe Instituut Voor StrafrechtswetenschappenUtrechtThe Netherlands

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