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Seal, G. 2014. Social Bandits, in Albanese, J.A. (ed), The Encyclopaedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
The Encyclopaedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Humanities Research and Graduate Studies
The concept of the “social” bandit was introduced by the late historian, Eric Hobsbawm, to describe “noble robbers” or outlaw heroes who resist oppressions visited on the poor and weak. The English Robin Hood is perhaps the best-known example, but such figures appear in folk traditions around the world and across at least several thousand years of history. Hobsbawm's contention that certain nominally criminal figures could be considered fighters against oppression, and therefore supported by their environing communities, has been influential and controversial across many fields of scholarship.