Defining white-collar crime (occupational and corporate)
Edwin Sutherland defined white-collar crime as 'a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation'. He noted that that financial cost of white-collar crime was probably several times greater than the cost of working-class crime.
This definition is very vague and includes both crimes against the organisation for which the person works, and crimes for the benefit of the organisation for which the person works/owns - these are very different.
White-collar crime offending: the problem of law
Another problem with discussing what counts as white-collar crime is that the actions may not necessarily be illegal - if the person is 'caught' then no one is likely to go in front of a judge and face the risk of going to jail.
They may be breaking supervisory codes or technical standards, but it's not strictly illegal. Nelken points out that it's as much about corporate practices and sociology bias about what they think is morally wrong as it is about breaking the law.
Pearce and Tombs say white-collar crime should extend to the manufacture of cigarettes and alcohol. Others point out that transnational companies based in poorer countries may be obeying the laws in that country for human rights, but this doesn't mean they are doing the right thing for the workers.
The distinction between occupational and corporate crime
- Studies of occupational crime - How and why people steal from companies and the public in activities associated with their jobs.
- Studies of corporate crime - Crime by corporations or businesses that has a serious physical or economic impact on employees, consumers of the general public. Motivated by desire to increase profits.
The impact of occupational crime
Theft my employees is a major source of crime in Britain. Ditton and Mars both studied theft by employees and found in the range of industries they studied, minor theft was looked at as a legitimate part of the job - a 'perk'. Clarke said management generally turned a blind eye to them.
Levi said losses from fraud in Britain are around £12.98 billion. (Fraud with NHS about £6 billion.
Practices of occupational crime extends in professions. Functionalists write that the key difference between professionals and other workers is the trust placed on them. According to Nelken, however, there's a lot of evidence pointing…