Script Analysis of Complex Criminal Activities: Investigating the Use of the Internet as a Facilitator for Offline Transit Crimes


Three years ago, I embarked on a PhD research study to understand what types of criminal opportunities the Internet offers for so-called transit crimes—that is, trafficking activities—and how these opportunities affect their organization. Previous criminological studies had already considered the role of the Internet as a crime facilitator, but they did not linger on these specific aspects. Script analysis—namely, a way to identify the sequence of actions which are carried out for a determinate criminal activity to occur—has been used as a tool in order to organize and analyze data. Data were gathered through media news, investigative and judicial material, and semi-structured interviews. This case study has two main goals: first, it introduces to the reader the basics of script analysis, which is a powerful analytical tool when looking at criminal opportunities, and shows how this tool has been used in an innovative way to answer to specific research questions. Second, it illustrates some practical and methodological problems encountered in carrying out my PhD research, and it presents the solutions found. By providing an account of these challenges, this case study leads to more general considerations on difficulties related to data access and collection in criminological research.

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