State-Corporate Crime and Civil Society
: Impunity, Resistance and the Commodification of Victimhood in Ivory Coast

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the specific criminogenic relationship between the state and corporation, and the state and civil society in the case of Trafigura’s dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in August 2006. Research undertaken in London and Abidjan reveals that the impunity that was enjoyed by the Ivory Coast state and Trafigura for this state-corporate crime was underpinned by the power of the corporation and by failures of both domestic and international civil society organisations that might have been expected to have labelled and challenged the crimes. Moreover, the thesis reveals that in the case of this particular example of state-corporate crime, civil society as an agency of censure and sanction played a distinctly retrogressive role. Here, in fact, state crime facilitated organised crime’s insertion into civil society through a process I define as ‘the commodification of victimhood’ and, as a result, ensured that impunity was virtually guaranteed for corporation and government. The thesis also examines the failure of international and domestic legal measures to sanction the perpetrators. The thesis argues that a criminal state can act as a nexus for crimes by all three sectors of society, facilitating crime by actors in the state, the market and third spheres of society. Gramsci’s notion of civil society as an arena of struggle provides a theoretical framework to assist in understanding the complex relationships between civil society, the Ivorian state and Trafigura. The findings presented here suggest that scholars of state corporate crime should adopt a more cautionary approach to civil society’s capacity to label, censure and sanction than that suggested by Green and Ward (2004).
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorPenelope Green (Supervisor)

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