Women's participation in chinese transnational human muggling: A gendered market perspective

Sheldon X. Zhang, Ko Lin Chin, Jody Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Despite extensive sociological research on gender and organizations, criminologists have paid insufficient attention to how organizational context and market demands may shape the extent and nature of women's participation in illicit enterprises. This study uses an organizational framework to examine the case of Chinese human smuggling to the United States. Drawing from interviews with 129 human smugglers, we propose a gendered market perspective for understanding the place of women in the human smuggling enterprise. We argue that the limited place of violence and turf as organizing features of human smuggling, the importance of interpersonal networks in defining and facilitating smuggling operations, gender ideologies about work and caregiving, and the impact of safety as an overriding concern for clients combine to create a more meaningful niche for women in human smuggling operations than is found in other criminal endeavors. Our research suggests that organizational and market contexts are significant explanations for gender stratification in illicit enterprises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-733
Number of pages35
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


  • Chinese organized crime
  • Gender and crime
  • Human smuggling


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