Social network analysis avoids some of the limitations of existing approaches to mapping organised criminal networks. It focuses on fluid interactions among individuals and determines social structures empirically, rather than relying on theoretical classifications – thereby avoiding some of the pitfalls in traditional thinking about organised crime.
However, it requires significant technical skill, time, and pre-existing expertise to generate and interpret an analysis. It also fails to account for the underlying social forces that may be crucial to network formation and functioning. It is a complex process that requires law enforcement and crime intelligence to partner with external researchers.
About the author
Anine Kriegler has a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cape Town and a second master’s degree in criminology from the University of Cambridge. She is working as a research associate with Open Secrets, a project funded through the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.
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