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Bandit Heroes: Social, Mythical or Rational?

The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Forthcoming

34 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010 Last revised: 16 Nov 2010

Nicholas Adam Curott

Ball State University - Department of Economics

Alexander Fink

University of Leipzig

Date Written: July 19, 2010

Abstract

Bandits steal from their fellow men. Yet they are regularly subjects of folksongs, novels and movies. In these outlets they are presented as folk heroes despite their crimes. Sociological explanations for this phenomenon based upon Eric Hobsbawm’s concept of the ‘social bandit’ and psychological explanations based upon myth building have been brought forth to explain the seeming contradiction. We propose an alternative explanation for the bandit hero phenomenon. We argue that bandits, acting solely in their own self-interest, unintentionally provide valuable services to societies under the rule of a predatory government. We identify three separate mechanisms by which bandits benefit society that do not necessarily hinge upon class struggles or historical dialectics. The social benefits that bandits generate form the foundation for their positive reception.

Keywords: Bandits, Economics of Crime, Dispersed Benefits and Concentrated Costs, Predatory Theory of Government

JEL Classification: K42, P59

Suggested Citation

Curott, Nicholas Adam and Fink, Alexander, Bandit Heroes: Social, Mythical or Rational? (July 19, 2010). The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1582823 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1582823

Nicholas Adam Curott (Contact Author)

Ball State University - Department of Economics ( email )

Muncie, IN 47306-0340
United States

Alexander Fink

University of Leipzig ( email )

Grimmaische Str. 12
Leipzig, 04109

HOME PAGE: http://www.alexander-fink.com

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