Labels and expectations

The slavery of the 21st century

The slavery of the 21st century

We live in a historical period in which technological speed and social interaction are the engine of hubris, a concept dear to the famous author and criminologist Soltes, a combination of infinite possibility and hubris that pushes young people in search of an ever increasing conformity and belonging to a group that, in most cases, does not belong to them.

The term just used does not intend to be a superfluous latinorum, but rather wants to induce the reader to reflect on the vastness of information that he can obtain and transmit without having a specific mastery of it. Facts and information that can push its interlocutors to emulate, in the case of a position of supremacy, or discrimination in the case of subordination. The mirage of the so-called "Instagram life", a life made of luxury hotels dressed in fashion and sports cars, in the case of a position of supremacy (understood in the social media and economic sense), will bring the users of the contents, subordinate to the creators , to try to achieve these new socially promoted and accepted goals.

Going now to unravel and agree with what has just been written and give an explanation that is logical, but never absolute, it will be useful to recall the enlightening words of R.K. Merton in the elucubration of the Strain Theory or, in more understandable terms, the theory of social tension. Here it is stated that when adolescents set social acceptance as their goal, they are faced with an enormous obstacle, that is, the difficulty of reaching it by legitimate means.

We see that these goals to be reached in order to be accepted are among the most varied: work, university, sports car up to high fashion garments; all elements that, if obtained, will make the individual more accepted by mass society, to the point of making him an example to be emulated.

In the concatenation of the emulating factors, the will to emulate other individuals will increasingly merge and, taking up the aforementioned theory, in the event that the means to access the goal are lacking, alternative means satisfactory to the need will be used, which may be lawful or illegal.

About the former, the individual in question will commit his resources (time, money, commitment...) to achieve the goal or "abandon the fight" to focus on other goals.

As for the second means mentioned, the phenomenon of emulation is undoubtedly a strong psycho-social factor, rooted above all in individuals with an identity in the course of formation and in young adults who try to carve out a place within society. Very often, however, this passage is experienced with fears of fear of the judgment of others. Since the birth of the consumer society, status symbols, objects, jobs, hobbies have been created that identify a person within a specific social class; the impossibility of accessing these specific goods has led to an equally interesting phenomenon, counterfeiting.

Counterfeiting has very ancient origins: think that the first "fakes" date back to the Roman Empire, where proto-forgers refined their techniques for the minting of fake sesterces to be placed on the market. From the Romans to the present day, enrichment and compliance with the "wealthy population" by illicit means has always been a way of satisfying economic and social needs.

To counter this phenomenon, the Italian legislator has introduced Art. 473 of the Criminal Code which governs the crime of counterfeiting as a crime against public faith with legal penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

The interest in this discipline can be found in two ways: on the one hand the violation of the right of the consumer unaware of the purchase of counterfeit goods, on the other the violation of a registered trademark and therefore of the intellectual property of the trademark itself. This division, much discussed by doctrine and jurisprudence, led to the sentence (Corte Cass., Section V, 27/01/2016 No. 18289), in which the absolute pluri-subjectivity of the offense was affirmed, thus giving an operational reading of Art. 473 of the Criminal Code.

If on the one hand we find the subjects who engage in illicit behavior by producing counterfeit goods and therefore subject to the aforementioned penalties, there is no supply without demand, so even for the "consumer" of counterfeit products we find limits imposed by the legislator. The most recent case law, indeed, has shown that the purchase of counterfeit goods is not a crime if it is used for personal purposes, but is punished with an administrative fine of up to 7,000 euros. The difference in the probative nature from the purchase for personal use to the purchase for resale determines the configuration of the crime of receiving stolen goods pursuant to Article 648 of the Criminal Code with edictal penalties set at fines of up to 10,329 euros and imprisonment of up to 8 years.

The device for these types of crimes and offenses in any case configures a strong risk for both the producer and the consumer, and at this point it is therefore interesting to ask the reason why people are pushed to buy fake goods.

Returning to the introduction discourse, the models that are proposed in semiotics and iconic language lead people to a progressive debasement of their economic possibilities by introducing higher and higher standards, increasingly expensive fashion garments, thus allowing a niche of people to imitation with "legit" products, while the rest of the population is forced either to abandon the trend, risking distancing from certain environments or groups, or resorting to illicit means to follow the fashion, often without knowing the real risks that they could run.

At the beginning of the last century, the scholars of the theory of symbolic interactionism dealt with the labeling approach or theory of labeling, defining it as a cognitive shortcut that allows you to fully know a person without knowing him at all based only on a summary vision of him; here today, even if we have moved from a physical or ethnic "label" to a label of a famous brand, the discourse has little changed in absolute terms, but totally overturned in its meaning. In some environments, indeed, if previously the fact of being slaves to a label was considered a negative, now it constitutes an added value and a moment of social conformity that allows the individual to hide behind and within it in the multitude to better respond to social expectations.

In conclusion, this need to be labeled, as widely mentioned above, leads many consumers to purchase counterfeit goods. Consider that currently the fake market constitutes between 5/8% of global trade with a turnover of 250 billion dollars. Just think of the large producers like China and Turkey, where this market accounts for almost 10% of the national GDP; all this to the detriment of one side of the brand owners, on the other side of the final consumer who, albeit at low costs, finds himself buying goods of very low quality with materials that often do not comply with safety standards due to toxicity, without considering the serious damage to the tax authorities as well as the enormous turnover for national and international organized crime.

Translated by Veronica Giustiniani

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