Admittedly, the central theme of this special issue – ‘a turn to theory’ – might seem naïve: What is critique, or research for that matter, without theory? First, corruption is an emotionally and ideologically vested concept, and corruption research is often characterized and/or motivated by normative descriptions and analyses of corruption.
Such research tends to empirically single out corrupt practices as opposed to legitimate or non-corrupt but still illegal practices.
Thus, we called for papers offering a critical study of corruption, and, further, we invited contributions that turn to theory to problematize and critique corruption.
Our intention has been to go beyond descriptions of alleged corrupt behaviour or normative discussions of legitimacy of particular activities, through engagement in .
This is not to say that there has not been a body of critical voices who in various ways have sought to problematize the mobilization of this ‘war’ as well as the ‘enemy’ that has been targeted, i.e.
the very phenomenon of corruption, and the way it is ‘fought’ (e.g.
The corruption literature has broken important ground for not only theoretical understandings of why corruption occurs and who it involves, but also for the development of anti-corruption policies and efforts across the globe.
In this special issue, however, we argue that what tends to be neglected is an investigation into, and thus understanding of, the underlying causes and mechanisms of the phenomenon.
Secondly, we claim it is a challenge for critical studies of corruption to sufficiently address the assumptions underlying the dominant theories of corruption.
Most studies that attempt to problematize corruption and anti-corruption practices take their point of departure in empirical data.