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The Rascal Road: Crime, Prestige, and Development in Papua New Guinea

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Title:The Rascal Road: Crime, Prestige, and Development in Papua New Guinea
Authors:Goddard, Michael
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1995
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Goddard, Michael. 1995. The Rascal Road: Crime, Prestige, and Development in Papua New Guinea. The Contemporary Pacific 7 (1): 55-80.
Abstract:This article critiques analyses that interpret gang crime, or "rascalism," in Papua
New Guinea as an underclass phenomenon. Illustrative sketches of gang members'
lifestyles and expressed attitudes toward their own criminal behavior are used to demonstrate a variety of social backgrounds and individual reasons for
pursuing a criminal career. Themes suggested by these sketches are explored
through a discussion of the Melanesian gift economy and common indigenous
understandings of the concept of development. That concept tends to be apprehended
by Papua New Guineans in terms of the gift economy, with its complex
integration of issues of reciprocity, socioeconomic obligation, status, and
Parallels are drawn between the behavior and attitudes of rascals and the
ethnographically familiar patterns of behavior by Papua New Guineans associated
with the pursuit of status and prestige through the manipulation of relationships
of reciprocation and obligation. The "rascal" lifestyle is interpreted as a
strategy for pursuing prestige and the appropriation of commodities into a gift
economy. Rather than view rascalism as a product of poverty and unemployment
generated by processes of development or underdevelopment, it is analytically
useful to consider it as an issue of the problematic encounter between a cash
economy and an enduring, robust gift economy.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1995 - Volume 7, Number 1

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