Teaching Criminology: Part IV

White Collar Crime

Part IV:  White Collar Crime. WCC is often conflated, in texts and in law, with corporate crime...yet the sociology is very different as are the forms of crime involved.

Then too, WCC is one form of human behavior which resists easy theorizing and broad generalizing. Efforts to generate formal, axiomatic, predictive theory fail here as much or more than with other forms of crime. Yet there are some commonalities within the genre which help sort out those differences and, thus, provide some leverage for those interested in equitable reciprocities as well as in social policy oriented to low crime relationships.

A.  Definition. White collar crime is that crime which involves a betrayal of trust implied in the holding of an office or other position of trust.

B.  Forms of white collar crime. Again, simple and encompassing categories do not suffice to inventory the range of white collar crime. Every day, new defaults of trust and new violations of belief are invented with which to exploit the organic solidarity essential to a division of labor in a complex, high-tech society. But we can do an inventory of forms with which to sensitize the student and the public of American Criminology:

C.  Motives for White Collar Crime. The student will note that I used the term, motive, rather than cause. Causal analysis is useful in discussing the behavior of simple systems but not of complex, open systems...more about which in the last of the series.

D.  Solutions to White Collar Crime. Policing, punishment, shame and other forms of degradation have but limited reach and duration.

Regulatory agencies, civil torts, criminal liability, malpractice suits do not prevent white collar crime...at best they give pause to the deed and craft to the act.

Education, social controls, religiousity, as well as other standard solution alleged to reduce street crime fail for white collar crime. We professionals/employees are already well educated; we already live within a well-organized normative structure; we go to church and condemn those who profane our gods and scandalize our religious values.

In a postmodern criminology, the solutions to white collar crime follow closely the motives for white collar crime. The student can review those and undertake your informal field assignment: generate social policy in both public and private sector which negates the motives.


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