Crimes of the Powerful Working Group

‘The Crimes of the Powerful’ working group provides a network and database for teachers, researchers, students and activists across and beyond Europe who have an interest studying and confronting corporate and state crimes and harms – in their various forms. The working group will provide an opportunity to share our knowledge of corporate and state harm and help establish new links with activists and academics who critically engage with the current forms, extent and nature of such crimes and harms.  The working group will thus provide an opportunity to connect local campaigns with a wider network through which we can collectively provide solidarity and support.  The working group also aims to foster a greater understanding of criminal and harmful corporate and state activities; offer possibilities for collaborative research; and work towards emancipatory change.

Working Group Coordinators: Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi, Vickie Cooper

Based upon observations and insights offered by academic research, investigative journalism and the struggles of campaigning and activist organisations, we recognise that:

  • State and corporate crimes and harms take a diverse range of forms (to be inserted)
  • Many corporate and state crimes and harms are either legal or sit at the borders of il/legality
  • Many corporate and state crimes and harms, if they are at least ‘punishable’, never get processed through any legal system
  • The economic, physical, emotional and social costs of corporate and state crimes and harms vastly outweigh the costs associated with the harms and crimes upon which criminal justice systems and civil law overwhelmingly focus
  • Corporate and state crimes and harms victimise ubiquitously, but do not do so in an undifferentiated nor randomised way – their effects generally flow along cleavages of class, gender, ethnicity and other structured social divisions
  • Corporate and state power makes knowing about the harms and crimes which are produced by such entities and their interactions relatively difficult – casting a critical gaze up, to power, is in general more difficult than casting such a gaze downwards, towards the ‘usual suspects’
  • To resist corporate and state harms and crimes we must first be able to expose them, document them, make them known – and in these efforts we know that we face obstacles and resistance, since one of the bases and effects of power is to seek to protect that power from critical scrutiny.

These features of state and corporate crimes and harms require and energetic, co-operative and sustained response. This group seeks to provide one forum for galvanising such a response. To this end, we are committed to the following:

  • Developing links between those seeking to expose criminal and harmful corporate and state activity
  • Pooling resources, expertise and experiences in a non-exploitative and mutually supportive fashion
  • Providing a series of resources in the form of tools, tactics and strategies, as well as documents…
  • Acting as forum which can provide speedy responses to egregious corporate and state activities, utilising resources offered by Universities and academics …..
  • Supporting those threatened by power as a result of their efforts to expose corporate and state wrongdoing

In seeking to achieve these commitments, the Group aims to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas which is at the same time a space free of sexist, racist or class-based prejudices, either in the form of words or actions.

We recognise that there are a plethora of groups and individuals long engaged in these practices .. and … the aim of this group is neither to usurp nor to act parasitically upon any of these activities… As academics we do not privilege academic activity. But we do recognise that, even in an era of marketised education many academics enjoy resources and privileges which it is our obligation to make as widely available as possible.

The organisation of the European working group on corporate and state crime and harm is undertaken by a steering group that will consist of at least the following: a working group coordinator; the coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control; the secretary of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control.  Members of the working group may also be invited to join a steering group.   The working group will meet every year at the annual conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control and members are encouraged to organise other events, meetings and conferences throughout the calendar year to help generate ideas, networks and direct interventions.  Such events may be full meetings for the whole working group or specially convened meetings of local activists in one given region / nation.   A separate mailing list will be maintained and other European Group media sources, such as facebook, youtube, twitter and crim-space, will be used to disseminate information about the working group and its activities.  The working group coordinator will be elected at the European Group annual conference and full details of the membership of the working group will be detailed on our website