Transnational Organised Crime: Concepts and Critics

Arndt Sinn[1]

Transnational Organised Crime as a Linguistic and Social Construct

The forward pace of globalization is greatly influencing the phenomenon of organised crime (OC). Transnational organised crime takes advantage of market liberalization, relaxed border controls, and the internet. The result is criminal groups with international membership and activities and connections to multiple countries.1 The term ‘transnational organised crime’ is already used to discuss and explain the international elements and connections of organised crime, but the terminological and sociological questions it raises cannot be ignored.

The term ‘transnational organised crime’ has both a denotation and a connotation, though it has been said to exclude certain important sociological issues.2 It has been criticized for lacking consensus even around the core idea of ‘organisation’, around which there is room for much discussion and which few legal systems explicitly define. It could certainly be treated as an extra-legal concept, given that the term is not a list of definitional elements but rather a criminological phenom- enon.3 The addition of ‘transnational’ is no help to definitional certainty, not least because there is no proper differentiation between the adjectives ‘transnational’ and ‘international’.4

  • [1] I would like to thank my assistant Ass. iur. Johanna Siebert for her constructive discussion and cooperation in the preparation of this chapter. 1 Cf. SOCTA, EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment, 2013, p. 16,, accessed 7 September2015; cf. Arndt Sinn, Organisierte Kriminalitat 3.0, Berlin, Springer, 2016, due June 3, 2016. 2 Frank G. Madsen, Transnational Organized Crime, London and New York, Routledge, 2009, p. 9. 3 Mark A. Zoller, ‘Verschwimmende Grenzen zwischen Terrorismus und Organisierter Kriminalitat’,in Arndt Sinn and Mark A. Zoller (eds), Neujustierungdes Strafrechts durch Terrorismus und OrganisierteKriminalitat, Heidelberg, C. F. Muller, 2013, p. 2. 4 Madsen, Transnational Organized Crime, cited in note 2 above.
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