Globalisation, Green Crime &White Collar Crimes

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 25-01-13 14:54

Globalisation and crime

Globalisation refers to the increasing interconnectedness of societies: what happens in one country can affect what happens elsewhere. Globalisation has been caused by ICT (e.g. internet, phones, Skype, email), mass media, (multi-channel 24-hour TV), the global movement of people, relocation of businesses to cheaper countries for more profit etc. 

This is a feature of a postmodern society and can bring new risks and new types of crime. Castells estimates the global criminal economy is worth around £1trillion per year. Crimes are no longer confined to a single nation state; they now cross national boundaries.

1 of 13

Global risk consciousness

Globalisation has created new risks and worries. For example, illegal immigration has created fears in the UK about crime by illegal immigrants and the need to protect the borders. However, such fears are often created by the media (see topic 1) who develop a moral panic about the threat posed by illegal immigrants to the general population. A consequence has been the tightening of border controls by governments

2 of 13

Globalisation, capitalism and crime

Taylor has argued that globalisation has led to crimes being committed by both the ruling and subject class. Many companies have relocated abroad to gain greater profits, but this has led to unemployment and poverty in the UK.

Consequently, those in poverty may turn to street crime, such as drug dealing, as a survival strategy. (See also topic 7 left realism and how poverty and unemployment may lead to crime so people can acquire the material goods promote through the media.)

Furthermore, less government control of financial markets (deregulation) has led to criminal opportunities for the higher classes in the form of moving their finances around the world to avoid paying tax.

3 of 13

Glocal organisations

Hobbs and Dunningham note that globalisation has shaped the way criminal organisations work.

For example, drug dealing is a global trade with the supply coming from abroad. However, the drugs are distributed locally (glocal = global + local). 

4 of 13

Green crime

Green crimes are crimes against the environment.

Beck argues that in a late modern society there is a greater threat from man-made risks than natural disasters e.g. pollution leading to global warming.

This is linked to globalisation: pollution from one country can affect other countries, as happened when the Chernobyl (1986) nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded, sending radioactive material into the air and affecting countries as far as the UK.

Examples of green crime:

  • Fly tipping
  • Water pollution
  • Air pollution
  • Dumping nuclear/hazardous waste
  • Species decline/animal rights abuses

The problem is many of these activities are legal. Therefore, green criminologists broaden the definition of crime to include legal or illegal actions that cause harm. (this is transgressive criminology- going beyond the normal definition of crime).

5 of 13

Types of green crime (South)

Primary green crimes result directly from harm to the earth’s resources, and include:

  • Air pollution (carbon emissions/greenhouse gases)
  • Water pollution (can damage wildlife/livelihoods e.g. fishermen and water supply)
  • Species decline/abuse of animal rights (trafficking animals; dog fighting; badger baiting etc)
  • Deforestation (destruction of tropical rainforests to clear land to rear cattle for export)

Secondary green crimes are caused by the deliberate breaking of rules and regulations designed to prevent environmental disasters:

  • State violence against oppositional groups where government use violent actions against oppositional groups – these could harm the environment  (e.g. the French government sinking the Greenpeace boat ‘Rainbow Warrior’ because Greenpeace opposed nuclear testing in the Pacific by the French government)
  • Dumping hazardous waste illegally
6 of 13

White Collar Crime

Sutherland defines white collar crime as a “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation”. This makes crime as much of as middle class issue as working class

There are three types of white collar crime:

  • Occupational crimes by employees against their organisation
  • Corporate crime for the benefit of an organisation
  • State crime by or on behalf of a government
7 of 13

Corporate Crime

There are four types of corporate crime:

  • Crimes against consumers: including the manufacture and sale of faulty goods, breach of health and safety regulations, sale of food or drink unfit for human consumption etc.
  • Crimes against employees: due to failure to meet healthy and safety regulations at work
  • Environmental crimes: crime against the environment to increase profit
  • Financial fraud: includes false accounting, insurance fraud and the making of false claims by sellers about the benefits of pension schemes or saving plans

Corporate crime can be explained by Marxism because it reflects the idea that the ruling class have the power.  They commit crimes, yet they serve no custodial sentence. They either get away with it, or are able to pay off the fines, as they have the money for it. Moreover, the ruling class are concerned with profit, as shown by the case of the Ford Pinto.

Corporate crime can also reflect Merton’s strain theory, as they are motivated by the social goal of financial success, if they are unable to obtain success through the legitimate means; they strain to the illegitimate means of success by taking illegal routes.

Corporate crime might not be represented in official crime statistics because they have the money and power to persuade the government not to do so. On the other hand, they can be recorded as accidents, not crimes.

8 of 13

State crime

State crimes are ‘illegal or deviant activities perpetuated by, or with the complicity of, state agencies’. State crimes include acts such as genocide, torture, war crimes and imprisonment without trial. Critical criminologists such as Marxists argue state crimes are one of the most serious types of crime, for two reasons:

1. The scale of state crimes: state crimes can involve many thousands of victims. For example, the genocide in Rwanda led to 800,000 deaths in 100 days; over 2 million Cambodians died between 1975 and 1979 in the genocide committed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge government. Furthermore, the state holds a monopoly of violence, meaning they can define when violence is acceptable and when it should be considered an act of terrorism.

2. The state has the power to create and enforce laws: the state can define what is legal or illegal. Therefore, they can define their harmful actions as legal meaning their actions will not be considered to be criminal e.g. the Nazi state created laws allowing the sterilisation of disabled people. 

9 of 13

State crimes, human rights and transgressive crimi

A right is an entitlement to something, and it protects us against the power of the state. Human rights include natural rights, such as a right to life and free speech, and civil rights such as the right to vote, privacy or fair trial.

Critical criminologists such as the Schwendingers argue that we must consider state crimes in terms of state actions that cause harm rather than simply actions that break the law.

This is because the state defines laws; therefore, if we only follow state definitions of legal or illegal behaviour then we can never challenge the state for their harmful actions. This is called transgressive criminology; where criminology goes beyond the boundaries of legal definitions of crime. 

However, Cohen argues that many state crimes, such as genocide, are criminal anyway (i.e. murder). Furthermore, some acts which may breach human rights may not be criminal, e.g. child labour. This becomes a moral, rather than legal, judgement about what is right or wrong which makes crime much harder to identify.

10 of 13

Explaining state crime

The spiral of denial

Cohen examines how states conceal and legitimate breaches of human rights. This occurs in three stages:

1. Denial of the event, until evidence builds up to prove the event did occur;

2. Acknowledging the event happened, but for a different reason: e.g. the state acted in self-defence, or casualties were accidental;

3. Acknowledging what really did happen, but justifying it to protect national security.

11 of 13

Techniques of neutralisation

Cohen develops Matza’s techniques of neutralisation to explain how individuals committing acts for the state justify their actions.

These do not deny the event, but seek to justify it.

  • Denial of victim – they started it; 
  • denial of injury – they are terrorists, so we are the real victims of their actions;
  • denial of responsibility – I was obeying orders; 
  • condemning the condemners – the world is against us
  • appeal to higher loyalty – defence of the free world or national security.
12 of 13

The social conditions of state crime

Those who carry out state crimes are not psychopathic, but are acting in ways to which they are socialised, particularly those actions taking place within the context of war. Kelman and Hamilton recognise that many state crimes are essentially crimes of obedience, and identify three features of these:

1. Authorisation: it is the norm to obey orders given by a person in higher authority e.g. a soldier obeying the orders of a general;

2. Routinisation: once the initial act has occurred it can become a routine matter, so is easier to commit again;

3. Dehumanisation: the enemy is portrayed as sub-human, therefore harming them becomes acceptable – they are not human, so have no human rights.    

13 of 13




Last bit of card 8:

Corporate crime might not be represented in official crime statistics because they have the money and power to persuade the government not to do so. On the other hand, they can be recorded as accidents, not crimes.

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Crime and deviance resources »