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Austin Research on Street Theft in Philippines

Timothy Austin

Timothy Austin, Department of Criminology, has focused his field research in the Republic of the Philippines. In October 2011, supported by grants from IUP, Austin returned to the southern Philippines to conduct field work on street theft among Filipino youth.

He writes:

“In an economically developing and oftentimes poverty-stricken locale, young children turn to the street, Oliver Twist-style, to learn ways to survive by begging or conning outsiders. The specific ways and rationales used by youth to dupe, trick, or deceive others to make a few pesos is sometimes viewed with humor by locals, although youthful pranks may later turn to crime. . . . thievery may be viewed almost as a sport-like activity or tradition, and is in the process of becoming embedded in the culture in the same way other aspects of the culture (traditional music, games, tales, etc.) become part of the folklore.”

Austin is known for his research in the area of informal dispute resolution and his specialty in cross-cultural studies. Beginning with several Fulbright grants to Southeast Asia in the 1980s, Austin published work on a variety of issues in Filipino culture, including Muslim-Christian conflict resolution, adaptation to village life in terror-prone regions, and the role of bribery in routine activities. He will return to the Phillipines in summer 2012 to continue his latest research.

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