This is a qualitative study exploring how participants saw themselves as moral persons, while they were involved in organized criminal activities. The theoretical framework is identity theory from symbolic interaction and control system perspectives. This study explores participants’ personal narratives of becoming involved in organized criminal activities, interpreting their moral identity meanings from their telling of these stories. Extensive quantitative research of crime has been conducted, but much less has asked crime participants for their own perspectives. This study allowed a view of moral identity meanings as they were experienced within the dynamic contexts of participants’ lives. Moral identity was found to guide some participants into criminal activities, while others were guided by other identities (being successful or important). Participants had limited attention to the potential harm their acts could cause to people besides themselves and co-offenders, while they were involved in criminal activity. However, involvement in the justice system created identity disturbances that led to increased attention to moral meanings later. They had more prominent moral identity meanings after their involvement in the justice system and incarceration than at times of criminal involvement. An implication of these findings is that criminal activities that are personally rewarding to the participant and conducted in secret pose a challenge to the preventive capacity of the moral identity control system, and of the deterrence potential of the criminal justice system.
|Advisor:||Casey, Andrea J.|
|Commitee:||Harrod, Michael M., Brown, Vicki A.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Human & Organizational Learning|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Criminal, Deviance, Identity disturbance, Identity theory, Moral identity, Organized crime|
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