Bandits steal from their fellow men. Yet they are regularly subjects of folksongs, novels and movies. In these outlets they are presented as folk heroes despite their crimes. Sociological explanations for this phenomenon based upon the concept of the ‘social bandit’ and psychological explanations based upon myth building, have been brought forth to explain the seeming contradiction. We argue that the available approaches are misled or incomplete. We propose an alternative explanation for the bandit hero phenomenon and maintain that by acting in their self-interest bandits provide valuable services to society. The benefits that bandits generate form the foundation for their positive reception.
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