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Criminology: White-Collar and Organized Crime

What linkages, if any, might exist between white-collar and organized crime?

To start with, white-collar crime and corporate crime are two completely different things. While white-collar offenses are non-violent ones, organized crimes can be and usually are violent. Besides, a white-collar crime is one conducted by an individual (a person of high social status) while an organized crime involves a group of people. One more distinction is that white-collar crimes are usually committed on paper and involve hidden machinations instead of active actions. However, some linkages can still be found. First of all, both white-collar offenders and people who are involved in organized crime have some legal businesses to mask their illegal activities. Secondly, organized criminals can be a part of various white-collar offenders’ fraud schemes since they can help with finding ways to launder money, and so on. Finally, since white-collar criminals do not use force, they can use groups of organized crime to do some dirty job for them. In return, organized criminals get cover and additional earnings.

What are some examples of white-collar crime in American history?

White-collar crime is not new. Its origins go back to the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1929, there was a scandal of the Teapot Dome, which involved unlawful loans of federal money. In the 1980s, Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken introduced insider trading and securities fraud to the world. Then, “phantom banks” appeared, and bank fraud began to develop (Schmalleger, 2015, p. 305). Several companies in the 1900s were hiding losses trying to save themselves, which finally resulted in their bankruptcy.

What is a white-collar crime? How did the idea of white-collar crime develop in the criminological literature?

White-collar crime can be defined as a crime committed by an individual of high social status during their occupation. In comparison with other perpetrators, white-collar criminals are less likely to be prosecuted and arrested and more rarely receive prison terms. A series of definitions had been given to the concept of white-collar crime before criminologists finally decided to define also a blue-collar crime (committed by people of less prestigious occupations) and occupational crime, a more general term that included any work-related crime.

What is a corporate crime? How does corporate crime differ from white-collar crime, if at all?

Corporate crime refers to any crime committed by a corporate entity to bring benefits to the corporation. Although it is a part of white-collar crime, it has many distinctive features, which differ it from white-collar crime as a whole. The main distinction is that white-collar crime is beneficial for a particular person in the organization while corporate crime is beneficial for the whole organization. So, it is about the corporation, not individuals.

What are some of the causes of white-collar crime? How do white-collar criminals differ from other offenders?

There is nothing special about white-collar criminals, apart from the fact that people do not want to believe that individuals of high social status, well-educated, respectful, and successful ones, commit crimes just as those of lower status. In general, they are motivated by the same factors as other criminals, the central of which is self-interest. Nevertheless, white-collar criminals do not use force and are not as dangerous as other offenders.

How can white-collar and corporate crime be controlled? What are four areas of reform through which white-collar crime might be effectively addressed?

It is hard to convict white-collar offenders at least for three reasons. These crimes are more vague and unclear than others, they usually include a continuing series of offenses, and, finally, white-collar criminals can afford excellent attorneys. To control white-collar and corporate crime, a series of reforms have been made during the last century. The most significant examples of those are The Sherman Act, The Clayton Act, The Securities Act, and finally The Sarbanes-Oxley Act.


Schmalleger, F. (2015). Criminology Today (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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