Resisting state-corporate crime through non-violent direct action: a study of crime-control from below

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The state-corporate crime research has been marked by an orthodoxy that fetishizes immediately perceptible events or actions, at the expense of understanding the more substantive social processes of state-corporate criminality. This orthodoxy has been changing as scholars from the Marxist tradition are increasingly transcending the empiricist perceptions by giving more attention to relations and processes that cause state-corporate events and imbue them with concrete meaning. This is evidenced in the UK by the work of Penny Green, Tony Word, Steve Tombs, David Whyte and Kristian Lasslett. Unlike the criteria-based approaches, Green’s and Ward’s process-driven approach recognises that it is not enough for an activity to be objectively illegitimate in order to be criminal, it must also be subjected to judgement. In the case of state-corporate crime, the civil society configurations are one social institution capable of inscribing deviancy labels on illegitimate activities through censure. One powerful means of censure is a longstanding resistance practice of ‘direct action’.

This thesis explores how different resistance movements have employed direct action to censure state-corporate conduct as deviant. Yet, to effectively stigmatise state-corporate conduct, it must have illegitimate properties. In the examination of illegitimacy in statecorporate conduct, it is argued, Tombs’ and Whyte’s concepts “state-corporate symbiosis” and “regimes of permission” are used to tease out the criminogenic potential latent in routine statecorporate practices. Additionally, Lasslett’s use of the Marxist dialectical tradition informs us that state-corporate practices are constitutive of much broader relations and processes, constitutive of capitalism. The state-corporate activities that have socially harmful and/or criminal outcome are integral to the function of “social metabolism” and the very existence of the state system as well as organised capital. In this way, state-corporate crime is not an aberration caused by a unique collusion, but by routine and systemic practices. This thesis applies this conceptual insight and a Marxist dialectical method to a multiple-case study, examining two disparate case studies – Case 1 censure of the UK-Israel arms trade and a drone company; Case 2 censure of the biotechnology industry and a biotech-seed company. In so doing, the study advances the view that state-corporate crime, as a phenomenon, comes into being through a dynamic, dialectical process.
Date of AwardMar 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKristian Lasslett (Supervisor), Rachel Monaghan (Supervisor) & Goretti Horgan (Supervisor)


  • biotechnology
  • arms trade
  • defence industry
  • dialectical materialism
  • Marxism

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