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June 2013

The Green Criminology Monthly #10 – June 2013 – Some Thoughts on the Dependent Variable in Studies of Green Crime

Welcome to the tenth issue of The Green Criminology Monthly by the IGCWG. Written and reviewed by the members of the International Green Criminology Working Group, The Green Criminology Monthly is a source of original research and publication on green criminology, environmental crime, and other issues concerning criminology. Each month a issue of this publication will be posted to our blog.

The article is available below in its full form, and is also available as a downloadable PDF file on our Monthly Archive Page.

Some Thoughts on the Dependent Variable in Studies of Green Crime
Michael Long
Department of Sociology
Oklahoma State University

What is a green crime? When does an act move from being just environmentally hazardous to a full-blown green crime? These are questions that green criminologists often wrestle with, either when attempting to explain the field of green criminology to students or uninitiated colleagues, or more importantly, when designing studies to analyze the correlates and causes of green crimes. In this essay, I would like to address these issues through a discussion of the choices green criminologists have to make when selecting a dependent variable (i.e. the measure of green crime) for analysis. In this essay, to present my argument clearly, I focus primarily on quantitative studies. However the discussion below would apply equally to measures of green crime in qualitative studies. This essay proceeds as follows. First, I briefly discuss the social construction of crime literature. Next, I review previous research that suggests that green criminology should focus on harms. I then turn to an examination of possible dependent variables in studies of green crime. The discussion stresses the importance of selecting a dependent variable that measures environmental harm, not adherence to a socially constructed environmental law. I also suggest that further theoretical development that takes a politica…

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