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Title: The organisation of the illegal tiger parts trade in China
Author: Wong, Rebecca W. Y.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The thesis is a study of how Chinese illegal tiger parts trading networks are organized. In particular, this thesis tests in a qualitative manner the causal relationship between three independent variables and the network organizations of these markets. The three independent variables are “ethnicity”, “level of enforcement” and “proximity to the source country”. The thesis also discusses the dynamics of the illegal transactions of tiger parts products. Legitimate meditators or dispute resolutions mechanisms are lacking in the underworld so the risks, which the parties undertake during trading, are far higher. This thesis explores how illegal transactions are enforced, carried out and honored in this trade. In order to map the organization of the tiger trade, I conducted fieldwork in three trading hubs across China: Lhasa. Kunming and Xining. I discovered five tiger parts trading networks, three of which specialized in the trading of tiger skins and two in tiger bones. Within these networks, the level of perceived but not the actual level of risk influences the decisions of the actors in the network. Entry into the network is easy when the perceived level of enforcement is low. In these settings, there is no ethnic restriction for entering the network; the supplier is willing to trade with anyone with a trustworthy reputation. On the other hand, accessibility to the network is strictly controlled when actors perceive a high level of enforcement in their operating environment. Under this setting, the organization of the network becomes more exclusive and ethnically homogenous, as shown in the Tibetan tiger skin-trading network in Lhasa and the tiger bone-trading network in Kunming. The proximity of the tiger source country to the re-distribution sites (fieldwork cities) also influences the organization of the networks. When the level of enforcement is low and the tiger source country is far away from the re-distribution sites, a monetary deposit is required in order to show that the buyer is serious about his/her request, as shown by the tiger skin-trading network in Kunming.
Supervisor: Varese, Federico Sponsor: St Hilda's College, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Criminology ; Criminology, Extra-legal Governance and Organised Crime ; organised crime ; smuggling ; wildlife ; sociology ; trust