Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology & Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Dawn L. Rothe

Committee Member

Peter Iadicola

Committee Member

Stephen Muzzatti

Committee Member

Travis Linnemann


There has been a resurgence of political and media interest in maritime piracy, specifically in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. This is credited to a rise in the number of piracy attacks that have been committed in Somalia's coastal waters. In response to this rise in attacks there has been an increased deployment of military warships from as many as 30 different countries to the region in efforts to combat piracy. Although the problem of piracy has received much attention there has been little attention paid to the structural conditions within Somalia itself, such as the ongoing conflict, lack of basic infrastructure and the humanitarian crisis related to drought and famine. This may contextualize the problem of piracy and contribute to the motivations for piracy and be instrumental to understanding the rise of piracy in the region. This research examines how this militarized policy response has been initiated by analyzing the processes involved in creating, enacting, and enforcing policies on maritime piracy. Using Somalia as a case study, because of the increased interest in the region, an analysis was conducted to determine how the international political community (IPC) has come to identify piracy as a problem, and then create, justify and implement policies to address it. Drawing on an integrated theoretical frame, informed by works of Foucault (1980), Gramsci (1971), Becker (1963), Schur (1971), and McCombs and Shaw (1972), the formation, implementation, and enforcement of these policies were analyzed paying particular attention to the international level (IPC), state level (state interests) and the individual level (US based trials of Somali nationals accused of piracy).


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