White Collar Crime

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White Collar Crime

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White Collar Crime

Newburn (2007): The study of crime focuses on crimes of the powerless rather than the powerful

Timner & Eitzen (1989):Focus is always on crimes on the ‘streets’, not crimes on the ‘suites’.

Sutherland (1949) coined the term ‘White-Collar Crime’ when setting out to show that crime was not just a working-class phenomena.


White-Collar Crime refers to offences committed by middle-class individuals who abuse their work positions within organisations for personal gain at the expense of the organisation and/or clients of the organisation

(Browne 2009)


My Name Is…


Fiddling Expenses





(Price fixing)

Insurance Scams

Tax Evasion

What might be classed as ‘White-Collar Crime?’


In 2002,

Worldcom (Telephone company in the USA) was forced to explain why $4 Billion was missing from it’s accounts. Shares dropped from $64 to 20 cents & investors lost millions.

As the definition of White Collar Crime is so vague it can be split into two main types:

Corporate Crime:

Crime committed by companies against employees or the public.(This is explored further in a separate PowerPoint)

Occupational Crime:

Crime committed against a company by an employee.

(This will be explored here)


(2001): Often doctors will falsify prescriptions and patient records to claim more funding from the NHS. One GP made over £700,000 over 5 years doing this.

In 2007, the millionaire Conrad Black (former owner of the

Daily Telegraph

was jailed for 6 years after defrauding shareholders out of millions of dollars.


Occupational Crime:

Ditton (1977) & Mars (1982) found that

many employees

(in a wide range of occupations), thought that it was a ‘perk’ of the job & legitimate to steal from their workplaces.

> Why might stealing from the office be seen as ok but stealing from someone’s home not be?

> How might this be linked to labelling theory?

> How might Marxists view this type of crime?

> What methodological issues might you encounter if you were to research the extent of occupational crime.


Official Statistics & White-Collar Crime

Official statistics tell us that most crime is working-class crime. White-collar crime is under-represented within these statistics and are thus misleading

Why might White- Collar crime be under-represented within official statistics?

1) Difficult to Detect - ‘Invisible Crime’.

2) ‘Victimless’ Crime.

3) Crime may benefit all involved e.g. Bribery.

4) Difficult to Investigate.

5) Lack of awareness.

6) Institutional Protection.

7) Lack of Convictions – Middle-Class offenders.

What are the implications of the under-representation of white-collar crimes in official statistics for the view that most criminals are working class?


Explaining Occupational Crime

Based on what you have learnt already, can you think of any explanations as to why occupational crime occurs?

Strain Theory & Anomie


Means & Goals


(Katz &


)The Sociology of Risk Taking

Control Theory (Reckless)

Market Culture, & Victimless Crime



White-Collar Crime is linked to the following:

> Marxism> Corporate Crime> Transnational Crime> Environmental ‘Green’ Crime> State Crime> Computer-based Crime> Globalisation & Crime> The Social Construction of Crime Statistics

Based on what you now know about White-Collar Crime, how does it relate to the Marxist Theory of Crime?

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