tutor2u | Globalisation and Crime

Study Notes

Globalisation and Crime

AS, A Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 30 Jul 2018

Globalisation is the process whereby the world is becoming more interconnected, where increasingly it makes sense to talk about a global culture, economy and politics rather than focusing on individual nations.

Hyperglobalists believe that globalisation is happening and is broadly a good thing: this is a process that is making society better. Pessimistic globalists argue that globalisation is happening but it is a negative feature of contemporary society. They believe that globalisation is largely westernization or cultural imperialism leading to a homogeneous global society, that destroys local cultures. There are also traditionalists who are unconvinced that globalisation is really happening.

Postmodernists see globalisation as a significant feature of contemporary society. This process has a significant impact on crime both because crime itself is becoming increasingly global but also because the effects of globalisation can have knock‐on effects on criminality.

Some crimes are global in nature. The infrastructure of globalisation that allows rapid international travel, communication and business, also facilitates international crime.


  • Cyber‐crime
  • International terrorism
  • Identity theft


  • Tax evasion
  • Money laundering


  • People trafficking
  • Drug trafficking
  • Smuggling
  • International terrorism

Globalisation Causing Crime

It is argued that globalisation has led to many companies exporting their manufacturing jobs to developing countries leading to unemployment, under‐employment and deskilling in countries like the UK and the USA which, in turn, according to left realists, can lead to relative deprivation which, they suggest, is a significant cause of crime. There is certainly evidence to suggest that crime rates are high in areas of industrial decline in developed countries, such as former mining villages in the UK, or former steel towns in the USA.

While the infrastructure of globalisation has arguably facilitated international terrorism, the current wave of terrorism could also be seen, arguably as a direct reaction to globalisation. If pessimistic globalists are correct, and the USA is turning the world into a homogeneous monoculture in its own image, fundamentalist movements (including those that engage in terrorism and other international crime) can be seen as a direct product of such a development.

Evaluating Globalisation and Crime

  • Many of these crimes have existed for centuries: smuggling is hardly only a feature of contemporary society. Terrorism has long
  • The contemporary era is not the only time when there has been unemployment and under‐ employment in industrial areas. Left realists note that crime rates were much lower in the 1930s than in the 1980s, despite the Great Depression. They use this to justify their assertion that it is relative deprivation, rather than poverty per se, that drives crime. However, critics of left realists might counter that their evidence suggests that it is neither poverty nor relative deprivation that drives crime, but other factors such as welfare dependency and therefore is unrelated to globalisation.


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