The Politics of Criminal Victimization: Pursuing and Resisting Power
by Eduardo Moncada, Barnard College
The conventional approach to criminal victimization views it as a traumatic but one-time act. Yet, this overlooks a layer of contentious and dynamic politics between victims and criminal actors that we have yet to analyze. I develop a new theoretical framework to analyze the strategic behaviors that victims and criminal actors use to pursue and resist power as part of the political process of criminal victimization. The framework enables us to better observe, conceptualize and theorize how victims exercise agency vis-à-vis their criminal perpetrators, as well as the varied behaviors and practices that criminal actors undertake to carry out and sustain victimization, but which are overlooked by the traditional focus on their use and threat of coercive force. I illustrate the framework’s analytic utility with an empirical analysis of the victimization of informal street vendors in a major Latin American city under a criminal protection racket. The argument and empirical findings suggest ways to expand and deepen the research agenda on the politics of criminal victimization.