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“Clan Crime” in Germany: Migration Politics, Socio-Economic Conditions, and Intergenerational Transmission of Criminal Behavior

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Organized Crime in the 21st Century

Abstract

In Germany, an intense political and media discussion has emerged on the phenomenon of “clan crime” (Clan-Kriminalität). In the course of the debate, “Arab clans” have often been accused of establishing criminal networks based on kinship and family ties. Despite the public debate, however, there has been a very little empirical research on the topic and virtually no attempt to understand it on a scientific basis by examining its socio-historical and cultural contexts. In this chapter, I demonstrate the roles of migration politics, socio-economic conditions, and kinship dynamics in shaping the structure and character of “clan crimes” in Germany. I argue that when a crime is committed by the member of a clan, it usually takes place either within that person’s nuclear family or independently of it and not at a clan level. Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, in my fieldwork, I found no evidence of clans either organizing or supporting organized criminal activity.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This work was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the reference Fkz, 13N15302.

  2. 2.

    Currently there is an attempt by the German Police University on providing a uniform nationwide definition of clan crime: see https://www.dhpol.de/departements/departement_III/FG_III.1/projekte/krimkrim.php. Accessed 14 April 2022.

  3. 3.

    See https://www.afd.de/innere-sicherheit/. Accessed 14 April 2022.

  4. 4.

    See, for example, https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/139/1913967.pdf. Accessed 25 April 2022.

  5. 5.

    See https://taz.de/Lagebericht-zu-Clankriminalitaet-2020/!5755101/. Accessed 25 April 2022.

  6. 6.

    In some cases, the term is also used to describe extended families from the Balkans and Caucasus.

  7. 7.

    Essen, a city in NRW, is considered to be a stronghold of “clan crime” in Germany.

  8. 8.

    The debate on clan crime in the schools requires in-depth studies to understand the topic from different perspectives. From the other side of the story, it seems that pupils use their family reputation to take advantage or intimidate. For example, a school teacher in the city of Essen told me that some “clan pupils” use the reputation of their families in order to blackmail or make trouble for other pupils at the school (Interview, Essen, October 2021).

  9. 9.

    It was not possible for me to verify such cases of discrimination. However, representative study conducted by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in 2017 found that people from immigrant families are particularly affected by discrimination. According to the study, every second respondent with an immigrant background has experienced discrimination in the last two years (Beigang et al., 2017: 109).

  10. 10.

    All names and personal details mentioned in this study are anonymized to assure the interviewees’ privacy.

  11. 11.

    Further discussion and ethnographic evidence would go beyond the aim of this chapter. However, this topic will be dealt in depth in my chapter on “Patterns of Legality and Legitimation of Culturally Modeled Conflict Resolution among [Mhallami] in Germany,” Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, as part of the project Conflict Regulation in Germany’s Plural Society. See https://www.eth.mpg.de/4410211/conflictregulation. Accessed 14 April 2022.

  12. 12.

    On the persecution of minorities by the Turkish state during this period, see Üngör (2012).

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Correspondence to Mahmoud Jaraba .

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Jaraba, M. (2023). “Clan Crime” in Germany: Migration Politics, Socio-Economic Conditions, and Intergenerational Transmission of Criminal Behavior. In: Nelen, H., Siegel, D. (eds) Organized Crime in the 21st Century. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-21576-6_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-21576-6_6

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