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The world of stolen goods a psychological perspective of illicit consumption

Christodoulou, Anthea (2007) The world of stolen goods a psychological perspective of illicit consumption. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



There is nothing trivial about illicit consumption in contemporary societies. While cultural capital can play a significant role in structuring social mobility, the desire to acquire goods, whether legitimately or illegitimately, has a direct and obvious link to a widespread business crime of Theft from Stores (TFS). Thus far, over time, and throughout society, TFS has flourished in our consumer-focused society, and while it has been on the increase in recent years, it has received relatively limited attention in the research literature. Evidence mainly showed that TFS is extremely widespread, and is not just restricted to the store from which "goods" are stolen or where criminal loss is caused, and it often affects society as a whole. This commonly committed crime has seldom been researched from the viewpoint of victims, and the means of considering the publics reactions and attitudes towards such phenomenon was of importance in this study. Previous research has argued that causal societal response might pinpoint an alternative way of tackling criminality and thus develop better effective strategies to confront and reduce TFS. Using attributions to understand the effects of causal explanations on respondent’s reactions was this study's methodological standpoint. This study ground its discussion on the structural reaction of the causal explanatory nature through the eyes of the victimized "key stakeholders" perceptions, by linking attitude research and TFS research. Thus, the purpose of this study was to develop more insights into how lay attitude toward the potential causes of TFS in general concur with, or differ from research accounts. Another important aspect of this study was to simplify the data and construct those reactions into specific domains that influence the formation of their attitudes toward the causes. Attitudes were measured by an attributional style design. The results of the study indicate the following: (1) lay attitudes varied between different backgrounds, and (2) a structural pattern underlying the formation of those attitudes towards the causes of TFS. Overall, the results captured belief values of seven specific goal-directed strategic domains that had found support on evolutionary reasoning and understanding. The identification of those seven factors formed the structural framework of the lay attributes that reflect to domain-specific social psychological mechanisms, which have evolved to deal with the unique complexities of contemporary demands, and thus are selected for very specific goals and their attendant strategies. This study argues that the origins why some people might want to commit an offence of so-called "shoplifting" or "consumer theft", and serves an evolutionary psychology (EP) purpose, since results suggest that there are very clear ancient behaviours still at work here in our current consumer-obsessed environment. Overall, it makes sense in our consumer-obsessed cultures that so many people steal, since results reveal that such reasoning can take information a step further. More than just a means of acquisition, TFS allows people to immediately experience of other symbolic values through strategic solutions likely to be successful for human survival. Where resources are scarce, accruing "goods" illicitly form stores can help both males and females ensure they have the means they need to successfully pass on their genes to the next generation. This study followed the beliefs and desires created in "us" by"our" psychological mechanisms to explain those numerous conditional and circumstantial sought causes that compel people to accumulate resources by stealing. This study provides theoretical and practical contributions, given that TFS has not been surveyed before in such an exploratory research style. The discovery of the underlying goal-directed strategic effort that arouse from this study's factorial structure, will constitute central implications for further TFS research, and may also facilitate methodological advances.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:32

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