Narrowing Down a Research Topic

Posted: September 18, 2011 in GLOA 491

Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about my research topic for GLOA 491. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably guessed that it will be on something to do with the business of human trafficking. Thankfully, I’m getting a lot closer to narrowing it down from there.

At some point early on in reading Kara’s book, I thought ‘wow, I should write decreasing profit and increasing risk for traffickers’. Of course, that turns out to be one of the main arguments of his book. But I’m thinking about doing this anyway, maybe with some type of spin like examining how to apply that idea to a specific group or country.

I will say this though, having thought about this topic for a couple of weeks: I think Kara left out or miscategorized a big piece in his call to action. Kara argues that if the costs of being caught are increased for traffickers, there will be less trafficking. This is predicated on actually catching the traffickers which I think may be unrealistic in too many cases. I would argue apprehension of suppliers hasn’t worked in the war on drugs (at least in the West), and I’m surprised that with all of the parallels Kara drew between the fight against drug trafficking and the fight against human trafficking he didn’t see this  contradiction.

Second, while it is true the costs of getting caught must go up for human traffickers, I would argue that attempts be made efforts to inflate all costs in the human trafficking business cycle, from bribes to marketing to transportation and more, including, yes, the costs of getting caught. While Kara does fit elements of these preventive measures into his call to action, he doesn’t look at them from an economic/cost perspective for the traffickers, which is integral when discussing how to decrease profit and increase operational and financial risk, as Kara does.

  1. annabel says:

    Craig, I agree with your argument that it will be difficult to catch human traffickers and thus, increase the cost of risk. After all, we read that many of the criminals are highly educated so I assume they now how to slip through the cracks and not get caught.
    Also, Kara argues that the business of sex trafficking is highly elastic. Pricing consumers out of the market is a goal for people fighting the business. But I think that traffickers are highly interested in keeping demand steady. Consequently, they will make sure that people can afford their “commodities,” so business can continue to flourish.

  2. Craig says:

    Annabel-Good point. My focus has been on raising the costs and risks of doing business for traffickers, but I hadn’t really thought much about pricing consumers out of the market, which of course would be a consequence of this effort. Thanks for making me think about that!

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