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White Collar Crime Political Crime. Social Context Defining WCC Types of WCC/Examples Applying Theory to WCC. Social Context. Concern with “corporate” criminals emerged in the U.S. in the early 1900s “Robber Barons” (Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller) Muckrakers

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White collar crime political crime

White Collar CrimePolitical Crime

Social Context

Defining WCC

Types of WCC/Examples

Applying Theory to WCC


Social context
Social Context

  • Concern with “corporate” criminals emerged in the U.S. in the early 1900s

    • “Robber Barons” (Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller)

    • Muckrakers

      • Upton Sinlcair (1906) The Jungle

  • Sutherland’s work on “White Collar Crime”

    • He coined this term

    • Study of 70 Largest U.S. corporations


Defining white collar crime
Defining White Collar Crime

  • Sutherland (coined the term)

    • Respectable/High Social Status

    • In the course of occupation

  • Later

    • Occupational Crime

    • Organizational/Corporate Crime


Occupational crime
Occupational Crime

  • Employee Theft

    • Pilferage and Embezzling

    • “Collective Embezzlement”

  • Fraud in the Professions

    • Medical Industry

  • Financial Fraud

    • Insider trading


Organizational corporate crime
Organizational/Corporate Crime

  • Financial Crimes

    • Fraud, cheating, corruption…

    • Price fixing, price gouging, trade restraint

    • False Advertising

      • Bait and Switch

  • Violent Crimes

    • Unsafe work conditions

    • Unsafe products

    • Environmental Pollution


Comparing the harm
Comparing the Harm

  • Property loss

    • “Street Crimes” (FBI data) = $15 billion

    • W.C.C. (from several sources) = $400 billion

  • Death

    • Street crimes = 17,000 homicides

    • W.C.C.

      • 30,000 deaths from unsafe products

      • 20,000 deaths from environmental pollution

      • 12,000 deaths from unneeded surgery


Explaining white collar crime theories that don t work
Explaining White Collar Crime:Theories that Don’t Work

  • Merton’s “modes of adaptation”

  • Poverty, inequality, etc.

  • Low Self-Control ??

    • Gottfredson and Hirschi point to “pilfering” and “embezzlement” as typical white collar offenses

  • Control theory that emphasizes “stake in conformity”


Explaining white collar crime ii what works
Explaining White Collar Crime IIWhat Works?

  • Sutherland (corporate culture, neutralizations)

    • DA as a “general” theory

  • Merton’s “Anomie,” Messner & Rosenfeld, Durkheim

    • “Industrial Prosperity”

  • Radical Theories

    • Social harms will not be defined as “crime” if they benefit the wealthy.

    • Crimes of those in power will be ignored/minimized


W c c and deterrence theory what might work if we tried
W.C.C. and Deterrence Theory: What Might Work…if we tried.

  • Deterrence: Swift, Certain, Severe punishment will reduce crime

    • But, must assume “rational calculator”

      • Problems for some street crime

      • More applicable W.C.C.?

  • The Irony

    • Many white collar criminals are fined an amount less than the “take” from the crime

    • Calls by policymakers for “self-regulation”


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