Associate Professor in Political Science @ Brown University

David Skarbek

This class examines the relationships between institutions, criminal actors, and violence. State-based institutions play an important role in explaining the level of crime and whether crime is disorganized or organized. Organized crime groups, in turn, influence both state-based institutions (for example, through corrupting officials) and other criminal activity, often by creating the “rules of the game” by which other criminals can act. Finally, both state-based and criminal actors and institutions influence the level of violence in society. Each of these three influences, and is influenced by, the others. This course offers the opportunity to better understand how these three factors relate to each other. It will engage with both major works on the topic, and also with recently published research and working papers. This will allow the student to develop a theoretically-grounded framework to make empirical arguments on these issues.