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Conventional capital, criminal capital, and criminal careers in drug trafficking

Resource type
Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Wang, Wei
Although the criminal career paradigm has explored various crime types, little effort has been conducted to systematically examine the pattern of drug trafficking careers. Ethnographic studies on drug trafficking have proposed that different forms of capital have an impact on the patterns of drug trafficking careers. The effects of conventional and criminal capital, however, have been the subject of much less empirical attention. Drawing from information on the criminal careers of 182 incarcerated drug traffickers, this study examines the role of conventional and criminal social capital on three dimensions of the criminal career perspective: the timing of entry into the illicit drug trade, the entry positions as a type of criminal achievement that traffickers first obtain in the drug distribution chain, and the progression of trafficking careers. Results suggest that weak conventional capital (e.g. legitimate employment) is associated with the early onset into trafficking careers. An offer coming from a friend or family member to enter the trade and self-initiation trigger the early onset. High levels of both criminal human (skills) and criminal social (contacts) capital are linked to starting at the most prestigious positions in the trade. In addition, criminal social capital is the most important factor to predict the progression of trafficking careers, while legitimate employment negatively affects the progression. Limitations and policy implications are discussed.
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The author granted permission for the file to be printed, but not for the text to be copied and pasted.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Bouchard, Martin
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