Psychosocial Balance Sheets: Illicit Purchase Decisions in the Antiquities Market

Published: February 2009

The article explores dealers’ perceptions of the ethics of their trade. The data suggests the presence of mediating “choice-influencing” factors providing a link between matters structural and individual acts of wrongdoing. The mediating factors identified are “empathy” – a form of care for the Other central to the Levinas/Bauman construction of morality – and “entitlement”. They are seen as linked. I examine the place of these mediators in the decision-making process. The data support the assertions that: (a) in many of its proclamations the law wholly fails to engage with the population it purports to govern; and (b) in part this failure is due to psychological mechanisms which employ techniques of neutralisation in a systematic way, to found an entitlement to participate in harmful activity.

Authors / Editors

Prof Simon Mackenzie

Victoria University of Wellington

Research Themes

Crimes of the Powerful: organised, white collar and state crime