White-collar crimes are the criminal activities done by businessmen, con-artists and officials. Cheating and dishonesty are the central elements of white-collar crimes. Some examples of crimes in this category are bribery, embezzlement, consumer fraud, etc. white-collar crimes are spreading around the world rapidly. Normally white-collar criminals are the persons who have high social status and respectability in society as part of their occupation. According to the FBI report, in United State, white-collar crimes cost around $3000 billion yearly. From this statistics report, one can understand the depth of this crime. (white-collar Crime).
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Principle elements of white-collar crime theories
white-collar crime theory tries to reveal some facts related to white-collar criminals. According to an article report about white-collar crime theory by Edward Raver, “ultimately prove the theory that white-collar criminals pose as much as of a threat to the society as a gun of wielding thugs, and perhaps, even more.” (Raver).
Here the white-collar crime crooks are not restricted to the financial and political elite, but they can be from all levels of the community. There is a possibility of perpetrators using white-collar crime persons against other persons and insiders against their organization. External criminals also may involve in this type of crime. The strain and negative emotions underlying white-collar criminals are different from other criminals.
One of the main underlying assumptions of the theories related to white-collar crime is that the law related to white-collar crime is developed based on the cases or offenses which come under white-collar crime.
Difference between white-collar crime offenders and non-offenders
White-collar offenders’ demonic, biogenic, psychological and sociogenic perspective is intrinsically different from the non-white-collar offenders. white-collar criminals are more suitable to accept probation and less suitable to be imprisoned than non- white-collar criminals.
Generally, white-collar offenders are officials. On behavioral and psychological levels they are different from others. After committing the crime they intermingle legitimately and be less obvious. They work more technically than other criminals. There are large and quantifiable psychological differences between white-collar criminals and non-criminals.
White-collar offenders are socially and economically in a high position. So they are having a high level of moral responsibility. So the public considers the crimes related to them are more censurable. At the time of judgment, judges’ reactions against them are harsher than non-white-collar offenders. According to an article report related to the personality of white-collar crime and non-crime, the white-collar crime is “predicted by gender (males higher rates than females), low behavioral self-control, high hedonism, high narcissism, and high conscientiousness after statistically controlling for social desirability.” (Blickle, Schlegel, Fassbender, and Klein). This report points out that high position white-collar criminals will have low honesty and high conscientiousness.
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Some important theoretical perspectives of white-collar crimes are given below:
- Rational choice theory:- According to rational choice theory, rational actors will decide to commit a crime more willingly than non-crime when they apprenticed that the net benefit of the crime is more than the non-crime activity. Here the benefit and cost are calculated by using subjective and objective dimensions. (Benson and Simpson, 66).
- Social control theory: According to the social control theory strong social constraints to conservative institutions are having probably low crime rates. That is crime rate is increased when people have fewer social bounds.
- Social learning theory: Social learning theory explains the relationship between crime and deviance. These two aspects work to inspire and manage criminal behavior, which encourages and weakens conformity. According to this theory, the possibility of criminal or conforming behavior depends on the function of the above-mentioned factors that influence one’s behavior.
- Interactional theory: This theory suggests that people are social products and they purposively act towards things that they believe have meaning and these meanings are resulting from the social interaction of these people. This theory can be used to explain the motivation behind white-collar crime where people use creativity to secure their position in society even when engaging in crime.
- Labeling theory: This theory, also known as social reaction theory, associates white-collar crimes to the labels applied to them which will influence and promote the deviant behavior of the criminals.
- Neutralization theory: This theory believes that criminals feel guilty about the crimes committed by them. But to commit the offense and to keep their self-image they try to neutralize the wrongfulness of their crimes through denial of injury or responsibility. (Lewis).
- Structural strain theory: This theory proposes the possibility of the influence of some social structures within society which may persuade people to commit crimes. People experience friction or pain when they try to satisfy needs and social structures may force them to meet needs by any means.
- Conflict perspective of crime: This theory suggests that crimes occur as a result of conflicts between individuals and groups. This can be understood better in the light of the labeling theory where a powerful sect of society makes the norms and labels criminals. This theory sees deviant behavior as the peoples’ actions that are contradictory to the views of the powerful and often causes when the social structures prevent the minority groups to access the scarce resources. When analyzing the contribution of this theory to explain the white-collar crimes it is clear that the theory is inadequate to explain the nature and causes of white-collar crimes. However, it can aptly describe why poor people commit crimes. (Deviance (Sociology)).
Marxist form of this view states that there will be a conflict between the proletariat or lower class and the powerful when resources are few. The radical view advocates for rebellion against norms of institutions and aims to destroy the exploitative system to build a new social order. The contemporary form of this theory believes in controlling the mass instead of individuals through norms, laws and discipline. This also may result in conflict. These views fail to fully reason out white-collar crimes.
To conclude, the understanding of the nature of white-collar crimes and issues and theories related to them will help social scientists and criminologists to think of ways to correct such deviant behavior from the part of the power structures of society.
Benson, Michael L., and Simpson, Sally S. White-collar crime: An Opportunity Perspective: Rational Choice Theory. Taylor & Francis. 2009.
Blickle, Gerhard., Schlegel, Alexander., Fassbender, Pantaleon., and Klein, Uwe. Some Personality Correlates of Business White-Collar Crime: Abstract. Applied Psychology 55.2 (2006): 220-233. Ovid.
Deviance (Sociology): Conflict Theory. Reference.com: An Ask.com Service. 2009. Web.
Lewis, Roy V. White-collar Crime and Offenders: A 20 –Year Longitudinal Cohort Study. iUniverse. 2002.
Raver, Edward. Theories Behind white-collar Crime. AC: Associated Content: Business & Finance. 2009. Web.
White-collar Crime. Karisable.com. 2006.