Economic Crime as Hiding Behavior


  • Oskar Engdahl

    1. Department of Sociology, Göteborg University
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      Oskar Engdahl is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Sociology, Göteborg University; e-mail His research interests relate to economic sociology and theories of action and power, with his recent work focusing on the role of money in economic crime. The article was written as part of the research project “Financial Intermediaries and Economic Crime,” funded by the Swedish Research Council. The author wishes to thank Tage Alalehto, Micael Björk, Agneta Bogestad, Bengt Larsson, Sven-Åke Lindgren, Lotta Pettersson, and Elsebeth Ström for their helpful comments.


The article introduces “hiding behavior” as a concept for understanding why people conceal economic problems and solve them by committing crimes. This concept's theoretical purport, empirical applicability, and relevance for the research area are considered through an analysis of an empirical case. An explanatory model is then developed, focusing on the concrete social relations in which hiding behavior originates and in which it remains embedded. From case studies we see how hiding behavior is situated in social relations characterized by a specific form of uncertainty arising from engulfment and isolation. In these relations money plays a central role, providing a medium for action-coordination essential in the incidence of economic crime. Finally, the explanatory power of the proposed conceptual model is discussed, with several possible refinements suggested for it.