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At the Extra-Legal Governance Institute (ExLegi) we produce first-class research on organised crime, cyber-crime, paramilitary, insurgents, and traffickers. We focus our attention on how these actors seek to govern markets and territories. We also offer teaching and supervision in these topics at the University of Oxford. 


Our mission is to advance scholarly understanding, create and lead a sustained dialogue with practitioners, and engage with policy makers, stakeholders, and the public to support evidence-based solutions in dealing with these issues.

  • Organised Crime
    By organised crime we do not mean simply 'crime that is organised'. Rather, we are interested in organised criminal groups (OCGs) that seeks 'to govern' the underworld. An OCG aspires to obtain a monopoly over the production and distribution of a certain commodity. For us, a mafia group is a special type of organised crime that specialises in one particular commodity, namely protection. More generally, we are interested in how and to what extent illegal and legal markets are governed by criminal groups.
  • Cyber-Crime and -Security
    This research area focuses on the organisation of cybercrime, with a particular concentration on financially motivated forms of this global phenomenon. This covers a broad range of activity, from hacking to fraud, and malware to “cashing out”. Topics include, but are not limited to: the nature of offenders; the structure, business models and governance of illicit groups; the offline and local nature of cybercrime, as well as its geography; tactics for disrupting cybercriminal marketplaces; strategies for diverting individuals away from getting involved in cybercrime in the first place, and for preventing re-offending.
  • Trafficking and Smuggling
    Smuggling and trafficking activities can have a significant impact on the lives of people and communities across the world. But how are they organised? Who are the actors – and the networks – operating in, respectively, the smuggling and trafficking market? What are the mechanisms underpinning such markets? And do they differ across countries/routes? This research stream explores such questions in an empirical and analytical way, looking at individual-level interactions, organisational structures and policy responses.
  • Political Violence
    This research area focuses on the use of force as a tool for advancing the political goals of an individual, group, or established organisation. Topics include, but are not limited to: how people are recruited into groups that use violence to further their political goals, the use of terror tactics by insurgent groups, how members of the group are socialised and indoctrinated into beliefs of violent groups, how states respond to violent challengers, the violent suppression of protests, and how individuals and groups behave within insurgent groups.
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