Completed: Criminal networks and social organizing

How does criminal organization, for example in street gangs, arise? By understanding how the networks work, we can also suggest crime prevention strategies.

This research draws upon an ambition to better understand the formation of criminal organizing paired with a general theoretical interest in organizations outside of organizations. It is important to note that the focus is not a conventional mapping of trends in ”organized crime” but rather to formulate a model that can explain degrees of organizing as an endogenous process in which the prime mover is previous criminal actions and criminal collaboration between criminals. The emergence of so-called street gangs is a case in point, and an extended aim of the project is to suggest crime prevention aimed at interrupting and disturbing such processes. The project takes a relational approach in which the core assumption is that the dynamics of criminal activity and criminal organizing arise from the interconnection of criminals. This assumption is at odds with some classic theories claiming that the root of criminality is the lack of social control, but in line with other theories where criminal behaviour arises from social learning.

The project gains theoretical leverage from criminology and organizational theory as well as the growing fields of complex systems and network science, which provide insights both into the abstract principles of organizing dynamics and how to measure social organizing.



Principal Investigator

Christofer Edling Professor, Sociology

Other project members


Riksbankens Jubileumsfond