Marketness and Governance: A Typology of Illicit Online Markets

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The preceding decade has seen explosive growth in illicit online commerce, spanning the platform economies of online drug dealing to the barter economies of child sexual abuse images and non-consensual image sharing. Though these all fall under the umbrella term ”illicit online markets”, the between-platform variance is extreme: Some markets employ currencies, some are based on barter. Some markets exhibit high degrees of administrative control, others appear anarchic. Theories that explain the organization of illicit markets through optimization or evolution are strained by this heterogeneity.

In this paper I propose a typology of illicit online markets that appreciates this heterogeneity. Drawing on social control theory and economic sociology, I propose that markets may be separated across two axes: The degree of administrative governance and their relative ”marketness”. This typology suggests that the marketness of these platforms is a function of governance and social control, rather than its opposite.
Publikationsdato4 nov. 2021
StatusUdgivet - 4 nov. 2021


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