Teaching Criminology: Part V

Corporate Crime

A. Definition: Corporate crime is those actions by corporate management and employees which harm workers, customers, competitors or communities.

Unlike white collar or street crime, the direct beneficiaries of corporate crime are not those who engineer the many crimes found in modern corporate life. Employees do benefit indirectly; they keep their jobs, they get promoted, they secure the economic base upon which their livlihood depends.

Direct beneficiaries are removed and remote from the actual criminal activity; those of us who own stock, who own annuities based upon stocks; who own mutual funds, the performance of which affects our investment decisions.

B. The fluidity and variability of causality can be seen nowhere as readily as in corporate crime. Yet there are three generic and interacting sources of corporate crime which, in all their human genius and well-developed skills, corporate executives pursue:

C. In its more pro-social moments, capitalism well serves the human interests in food, shelter, communication, transport, knowledge and recreation.

Even at its worse, capitalism provides enough surplus which makes poverty in advanced capitalist societies more tolerable than in slavery, feudalist, and some horticultural political economies. It is this capacity to provide goods and services which make those victimized by corporate crime more tolerant and less critical than radical criminologists might expect.

D. Yet there are many factors which drive corporations to crime, especially in democratic societies.

In democratic societies, elected officials as well as state functionaries depend upon the electorate to keep their jobs...thus, there remains tension between contra- dictory goals of the capitalist state:

E. Forms of Corporate Crime:

F. Magnitude of Corporate Crime. The number of deaths engineered by corporations by unsafe working conditions, unsafe products, recourse to military intervention in other countries for markets, raw materials cheap labor and 'favorable' marketting conditions outstrip street crime by orders of magnitude; multiple the number of murders committed by street thugs by 1000 and the magnitude of theft by 10,000 and one get some idea of how well done corporate criminals do their crime.

G. Motives for Corporate Crime in Advanced Monopoly Societies. The sources of corporate crime mirror the areas in which corporations had free reign in earlier, pre/semi-democratic political systems.

G. Solutions to Corporate Crime. There are many factors to consider when thinking about how to minimize corporate crime.

H. These and more problems await affirmative postmodern criminology as we move into the 21st century. Criminology has made a lot of progress since the days we talked of instincts, body types, physiological/chemical causes of crime...yet there is much, much more to be done. I have a few answers and the beginnings of others...along with Louk Hulsman, Ron Kramer, Dragan Milovanovic, Richard Quinney, Ray Michalowski, The Schwendingers, Tony Platt and a hunderd other radical, feminist, marxist, postmodern criminologists.

TR Young

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