Custom becomes crime, crime becomes custom

PhD thesis

Bark, T. 2006. Custom becomes crime, crime becomes custom. PhD thesis Middlesex University Health and Social Scences
TypePhD thesis
TitleCustom becomes crime, crime becomes custom
AuthorsBark, T.

This thesis examines the changing relationship between customary activities of the poor and economic change. The social crime debate is used to illustrate the historical
importance of informal economic activity, both as a survival strategy and as a means of protest. Key issues of the experience in Britain will be highlighted, and issues such as self-interest will be placed within community toleration. Ironically, social criminal activities are also in the wider interests of the class of people from which social criminals themselves originate.
The change from Feudalism and the origin of capitalism (particularly industrial capitalism) created the working class. The peasantry were increasingly displaced from the land, and habits suitable for work paid in cash were inculcated and forced upon people. Customary agricultural practices were gradually whittled away, but the working class changed these into perquisites and new customary work-based appropriation. Protest became located within the official structures of the labour movement, and increasingly orientated around the wage form.
The post World War II economic boom encouraged standardisation and stabilisation of products, and within society itself. The onset of economic crises, beginning in the late 1960s, had increasingly global effects, and involved new markets encouraged by European integration. This changed the nature of (un)employment relations, the
composition of the working class, consumption demands and possibilities, as well as creating a large and growing informal economy.
This new casual and opportunistic, official/unofficial labour market, has meant a resurgence of social crime as a normal feature of survival. Shoplifting, tobacco and
alcohol smuggling will be theoretically and practically examined; social crime content assessed; and protest capacity explored. Informant narratives highlight these key features of our time. The thesis further argues that crime has returned as a central aspect of culture.

Department nameHealth and Social Scences
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print12 Jan 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jan 2011
CompletedFeb 2006
Output statusPublished
Additional information

A theses submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

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