Erik Wångmar’s book on corruption presents an astonishingly thorough and methodical historical analysis of five corruption cases set in the world of Swedish local politics, i.e. on a municipal level. While impressive in its laboriously scope, archival accuracy and extensive time frame, the book does not counterbalance this empirical focus with an equally rewarding theoretical analysis and development.
Corruption within organisations is frequently referred to as a type of virus, a concept that is undoubtedly used to shine light on its perceived destructive nature. When most of us think of viruses it is hard not to make associations with epidemics such as the SARS-virus that spread from Asia and threatened to become a pandemic in the early 2000s or maybe the more recent Swine Flu that hit the western countries with a swift blow killing hundreds of people.
[…] the limits set by civilization can dictate the conditions without which it could not exist. But it is enough for it to dictate them rather often. If the situation appears clear, it is as if the limits were there to be transgressed. (Bataille, 1991: 220)
Over the past two decades, the will to fight corruption has increased in society at large. Consequently, the importance of effective anti-corruption measures has expanded into a global political agenda with the OECD, the World Bank and the UN in the forefront. Historically, corruption has been seen as an issue in the public sector, defined as the ‘the misuse of public office for private gain’ (The World Bank Group, 2012).
The world is waging war on corruption. Accompanying this war, there is also a growing academic interest in corruption. This research, however, has tended to operate with a nearly undisputed understanding of what corruption is and how to fight it. It has refrained from theorizing corruption, possibly as a consequence of the perceived urgency involved in identifying, raising awareness about and fighting corruption. This special issue of ephemera seeks to re-emphasize the relevance and importance of theorizing corruption.
Issue Editors: Thomas Taro Lennerfors, Eric Breit and Lena Olaison