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Title: Out of harm's way : understanding kidnapping in Mexico City
Author: Ochoa Hernandez, Rolando
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 3113
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation analyses the survival strategies that wealthy people in Mexico City have designed and implemented to protect themselves from kidnapping with special focus on household employment relationships. This particular crime has demonstrated a particular evolution in the last 20 years that deserves analysis. Once a political crime, it became an economic crime that at first only targeted wealthy individuals and then over time began targeting working class victims. Based on extensive qualitative fieldwork in Mexico City which included a year in the field, 78 interviews with employers, employees, kidnapping victims and members of the police forces and justice system and the creation of a news reports database this thesis presents a detailed history of the evolution of kidnapping in the period 1968-2009. This is followed by an in depth analysis of the strategies elites use to protect themselves from this crime. Special attention is focused on the hiring process of household employees, namely drivers, as evidence suggests that most kidnappings are organized or facilitated in some way by a close collaborator of the victim. The hiring process is approached as a problem of trust. Signaling theory is the main framework used for the solving of this problem, as well as some ideas found in transaction cost economics, namely vertical integration. The results point towards strategic behavior from the actors involved that seeks to minimize the risk of being kidnapped for the employer. Signaling helps us uncover the specific mechanisms by which employer establish their prospective employees’ trustworthiness. The use of informal social networks made up of strong ties is one of the most salient mechanisms used to guarantee honest employees and this, together with a composite set of properties is signaled throughout. This thesis contributes to the literature on crime in Latin America as well as to the sociological literature on signaling, a branch of analytical sociology.
Supervisor: Hamill, Heather Sponsor: CONACYT (Mexico)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Latin America ; Criminology ; Public policy ; Sociology ; Rational choice and signalling theory ; crime ; kidnapping ; Mexico ; Mexico City ; rule of law ; sociology ; signaling ; trust