James W. E. Sheptycki

Some Sociological Reflections on Transnational Crime and Transnational Policing

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This essay seeks to connect the sociological phenomena of transnational crime and transnational policing through a critical discussion of the terms used to describe them. It argues that authorized discourses regarding transnational crime are selective and partial and that this results in two kinds of failure. It is a positive failure insofar as increasing policing power in response to a global crime panic comes at the expense of civil liberties and human rights. It is a negative failure because the transnational policing capacity that has been developed is unable to respond to the criminological consequences that are a real, albeit negative, aspect of globalization. Sociologically speaking, the surveillant assemblage of the emergent global police security-complex is an awesome and unaccountable power legitimitated on the basis of specified folkdevils. However, and in spite of well-publicized claims to success, due to its own internal organizational pathologies and institutional fragmentation, the police security-complex is capricious. The essay concludes by arguing that critical the examination of the concepts that constitute transnational crime and policing is a crucial contribution to the sociological understanding of the global system and its governance.

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