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Article

Thomas MacManus

While state crime is a relatively recent event in the discipline of criminology, tracing the roots of its modern form to the 1990s, it has attracted some of the best minds to research and theorize on the immense and fatal excesses of the modern nation state. State crime is defined most convincingly by Penny Green and Tony Ward as state organizational deviance involving the violation of human rights. The crimes are organizational in nature and are carried out by vast state systems and corporate structures. This approach can be contrasted with the individual criminal liability, “scapegoat” ideology of international criminal law and other criminal law regimes. The definition relies on the criminological concept of deviance, a label applied by a social audience, to make up for the lack of criminal legal definition of the behaviors, legitimacy, and human rights norms in order to differentiate it from crimes that are carried out without harm to human or planet (such as minor international economic treaty violations). A sub-field of state crime, state-corporate crime has developed to track those crimes which occur at the intersection of the state and the market.

Article

State–corporate crime research has developed significantly since William Chambliss’s presidential speech to the American Society of Criminology in 1989 calling for specific attention to corporate crimes and connections with the state. From 1992 to 2000, four foundational case studies established a working theoretical framework. Since its debut in 1998, the integrated theoretical framework has had two levels of analysis added as well as the key concepts of state-initiated, state-facilitated, corporate-initiated, and corporate-facilitated crime. However, events of the 21st century have demonstrated the importance of developing the international level of analysis of the theoretical framework. The Great Recession of 2008, the Panama Papers and tax evasion by those people and corporations named, Peruvian lawsuits against German fossil fuel industries regarding climate change, the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal, and the global Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 elucidate the international connections between states and businesses and the need for extensive research uncovering these connections and the mechanisms used by states and corporations to maintain and reproduce these criminal partnerships.

Article

Nicholas Lord, Yongyu Zeng, and Aleksandra Jordanoska

Historically, white-collar crime scholarship, including and since the seminal work of Sutherland, has tended to concentrate empirical, conceptual, and theoretical focus on manifestations of associated crimes and deviance, their dynamics and generative conditions, within individual nation-states. While white-collar crime scholarship itself has expanded across the globe, this predilection for analyses of local and/or national-level cases and the nature, extent, and scope of these white-collar crimes has largely remained. Notwithstanding, it is not entirely uncommon for white-collar crime scholars to make reference to the international, multinational, transnational, or global aspects of the crimes they study, even if these are predominantly national in nature, but the corresponding features and components of these “beyond-national” dynamics have not been comprehensively unpacked or conceptualized. Similarly, conceptualizing and interrogating the dynamics of white-collar crimes that go beyond national boundaries as part of their organization and nature, while recognized as significant, is often not a core analytical concern. Understanding the varying characteristics and features, as well as the differing configurations, interrelations, and organizational dynamics of those white-collar crimes that in some way transcend jurisdictional boundaries, is significant for white-collar crime theory and research. Examining these issues in further detail and thinking through the implications of the beyond-national aspects of white-collar crimes is a useful framework for interrogating white-collar crimes and understanding the necessary and conditional relationships of the white-collar crime commission process that overlay onto common patterns of routine business activities. There are notable examples from the academic literature but also from real cases of white-collar crime that demonstrate how white-collar and corporate offenders have organized their criminal activities across jurisdictional boundaries, how they have externalized the risks associated with their crimes, how they have exported their crimes to take place in other jurisdictions, and/or how they have utilized cross-jurisdictional structures and systems, including digital spaces and infrastructures, to facilitate their criminal activities and associated concealment, conversion, and control of illicit finances. Such analyses have often been accompanied by reference to purported processes of globalization as a generator of new and increased opportunities for white-collar crimes (though little is known about why some opportunities are realized but not others). Globalization, despite itself being a contested concept, has emerged as a significant factor for analyses of white-collar and corporate crimes that extend beyond individual nation-states as greater interconnectedness, increased mobilities, and increased interdependencies are seen. These purported processes of globalization have been identified as possessing varying intensity and speed that have influenced opportunities for, and the organization of, white-collar crimes. That said, globalization per se does not inevitably generate more white-collar crimes organized beyond the nation-state if they can be productive without having to do so. In these terms, globalization of white-collar crimes is not automatic, but is one explanatory factor that contributes to how some white-collar crimes have beyond-state aspects, usually alongside the expansion of routine business activities. Nevertheless, there is a need to explore the spatial (including digital) contexts of white-collar crimes that have beyond-national scope with a view to questioning how useful it is, or can be, to understand how different white-collar crimes pertain to, are associated with, or are restricted to particular “territories” at the domestic (i.e., nation-state), international, transnational, multinational, supranational, and global levels and how this has implications for research, policy, and practice.

Article

White-collar crime has not developed in a linear way as an academic subject. Its definition remains contested, between those who consider that, when deciding on the boundaries of what we can explain, we cannot depart far from the decisions of criminal courts and, at the other extreme, those who substitute “social harm” for “crime” and see the theoretical task as explaining why criminal justice reacts far more severely to the less socially harmful acts. Most scholars are somewhere closer to the legalistic view, except that they substitute convictability for conviction, though convictability may be disputable except where there is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement or an agreed statement by the corporation. Individual, organizational, and cultural explanations of white-collar offenses are considered and are complementary, depending on the research question to be explored. Incomplete or distorted datasets are commonplace, but the increasing number of life course studies of white-collar criminality show that serious white-collar (and organized crime) offending typically has a later onset than other crimes. This may be due to established professionals being recruited as ‘enablers,’ and/or that a certain maturity is necessary to act as a credible borrower or investment intermediary, depending on the crime. An important dimension of white-collar crime explains the decisions about formal and informal social control as ways of dealing with misconduct. These decisions range from detailed analysis of individual cases and patterns in a financial and/or industrial/service sector to macro explanations such as intentional or neglectful police/prosecutor resource starvation and protection of elites in neo-liberal societies. Some of the strategies are affected by whether regulator/regulatee relationships are repeat players progressing up the regulatory pyramid, or whether they are outsiders or intentional harm-doers, who may be less likely to be deterred or reformed by engagement with the regulators.

Article

Jón Gunnar Bernburg

Originating in the tradition of classical sociology (Durkheim, Merton), anomie theory posits how broad social conditions influence deviant behavior and crime. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim was the first to discuss the concept of anomie as an analytical tool in his 1890s seminal works of sociological theory and method. In these works, anomie, which refers to a widespread lack of commitment to shared values, standards, and rules needed to regulate the behaviors and aspirations of individuals, is an intermediate condition by which social (dis)organization impacts individual distress and deviant behavior. An observant of the massive social changes of 19th-century Europe, Durkheim argued that anomie resulted from rapid social change and the weakening of traditional institutions, in particular the reduced authority of such institutions in the economic sphere, as well as changes in the principles underlying social inequality. A few decades later, the American sociologist Robert Merton re-formulated anomie theory, arguing how a particular malintegration of the culture-structure constitution of modern society produces high rates of crime. Echoing selected themes in Durkheim’s work, and discussing the United States as a prime example, Merton argued how a shared overemphasis on monetary success goals undermines individual commitment to social rules, and generates a particularly acute strain on individuals in disadvantaged social positions. Thus having implications for research on crime rate differences between societies as well as between individuals and groups within the society, anomie theory has inspired a broad range of both macro- and micro-level applications and extensions. On the one hand, the theory has shaped studies of crime rates across large social units, such as countries and metropolitan areas. Such research, while often limited in terms of the types of crime that can reliably be compared across large social units, has linked crime with economic inequality, materialistic values, the institutional dominance of market-driven processes and values, and rapid social change. An important development in this tradition is the advent of multilevel research that links societal factors with individual normlessness, strain, and criminal behavior. On the other hand, micro-level implications of anomie theory, often referred to as classic strain theory, have shaped studies of individual and group differences in criminal behavior within societies. This type of work often studies youths, at times bringing in notions of gangs, subculture, and differential opportunities, focusing on the criminogenic effects of strain stemming from opportunity blockage and relative deprivation. Yet the work rarely examines individual normlessness as an intermediate process linking social structure and delinquency. Finally, anomie theory has been extended and applied to research on business/corporate and white-collar crime. While more research is needed in this area, the extant work suggests how anomie theory provides a particularly powerful explanation of national-level differences in business/corporate crime (e.g., bribery). The article concludes by noting that an increased emphasis on multilevel research may lead to an integration of the macro-level and micro-level extensions and applications of anomie theory in the future.

Article

In a broad sense, international criminology can be described as the set of activities related to crime prevention and control, coming from the academia, public and private institutions and agencies, to join efforts to debate and publish and make policies, addressed to a global audience beyond a single country. This process of internationalization of criminology, started since its beginnings as a science, at the end of the 19th century through important congresses and meetings developed in Europe, where public officials and academics met. In the 21st century we can talk of a global or globalized criminology around the world, expressed also via websites on the Internet. Together with international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of war and, to a lesser extent, aggression as crime against peace), transnational crimes (corruption, financial crime, terrorism, organized crime, and its different modalities of illegal trafficking, cyber-attacks, and crimes against the environment), as well as crimes of abuse of (political and economic) power (enforced disappearances, summary executions, torture) are the subject matter of international criminology. However, the concept of international criminology is elastic and welcomes any international approach to other topics, traditionally thought domestically; in any case from the international perspective the social-political dimension of criminality appears as a much more relevant issue than the criminal’s personality (and treatment) and protection of victims and the community become the focus of interest. Within the internationalization of criminology there are at least two trends that deserve further analysis. The first one is how to balance the cultural differences among all the countries and the myriad of interests involved in the construction of an international criminology. Some criticism is heard in the sense that international criminology is influenced by American or Anglo-Saxon views. From this perspective it is observed a risk of producing academic, legal, and policy criminological transplants without considering the cultural and socioeconomic context of every country and the voices of their inhabitants. The second trend refers to the role of international criminology in relation with the increasingly diffuse borders between police, intelligence agencies, and military forces; crime control and war; or internal and external security. Even though international crimes have always been a core topic, war and political and economic abuse of power across borders have been quite forgotten in the agendas of both national and international criminology. Today there are different forms of cooperation among countries in conflict situations, (e.g., terrorism, border controls, and the so-called refugee crisis) where the military, intelligence agencies, police forces, and private corporations of different countries work together, providing international criminology new topics for critical reflection and action.

Article

Women and white-collar crime is a topic that has, overall, received little attention in the literature. Initially, women were omitted from discussion and research because of their lack of participation, though some early commentary focused on victimization. When Edwin Sutherland first drew public and academic attention to white-collar crimes, few women were employed in positions that were conducive to commit elite crimes related to occupations or professions. According to Sutherland, white-collar crime involved professional men in positions of trust. From 1939 until the 1970s, work on white-collar offenders and offenses was male-centric, which included both scholarly researchers who were exploring the topic and males committing the majority of crimes. Corporations and respected professionals, not women, were presented with a multitude of opportunities to engage in white-collar crimes with little or no serious consequences. Primarily male corporate executives, politicians, and medical professionals committed white-collar crimes that included, for example, activities such as price fixing, insider trading, bribery, insurance fraud, and Ponzi schemes. Women, who lacked opportunity outside the private sphere of the home, were less involved in crime overall and certainly were in no position to commit white-collar offenses. In the 1940s and 1950s, female crime was typically viewed as promiscuous, aberrant, and male-like behavior. Eventually, in the mid-1970s as more women moved into the public sphere seeking employment, early predictions by female scholars suggested that an increased involvement in white-collar crime was inevitable. The types of crimes committed by women, as noted by pioneering female scholars, were likely to expand beyond prostitution, check kiting, and shoplifting to white-collar offenses as opportunities became increasingly available in the public sphere. Gender inequality in most criminal endeavors continues to exist and more recent debates continue about the role of women in white-collar crime.

Article

Greed is a central part of human nature. In history, feudal barons and kings, as war profiteers, continued to engage in war to acquire more after they had accumulated excessive wealth; in the modern era, greed is still rampant as the wealthy and powerful keep accumulating inordinate amounts of wealth and power. Greed does not exist in a social vacuum: it often involves a complementary reduction in other people’s outcomes, even as the greedy actor achieves substantive gains. In addition, people’s resource accumulation often stimulates rather than sates, creating a vicious cycle of extravagant spending and insatiable desire. Historical and philosophical approaches typically connect greed with immoral and deplorable behavior. Religious admonitions even make it more obnoxious and despicable. Greed is often believed to be an obvious, perhaps too obvious, cause of white-collar crime. There is no shortage of notorious cases of corporate greed, where white-collar offenders engage in amazing frauds and/or extravagant spending sprees. Yet empirical research on the relationships between greed and white-collar crime is rather limited. Greed can be both personal and environmental. On the one hand, our natural needs and wants suggest that people cannot always easily escape the temptations of greed. Thus, for at least some people, greed may be intrinsic, dynamic, and grow across spans of their life cycle. This may make restraining greed a challenging task as it represents a dissonance of human nature. On the other hand, greed is not always portrayed as disgraceful or unacceptable because of its connection to self-interest maximization and market competition, foundational elements of business and economics education and management practices. In particular, when the push for profits is pervasive, traditional, and taken-for-granted in modern organizational life, greed may inadvertently become less derogatory.

Article

Cassandra Cross

Each year, millions of individuals worldwide find themselves victims of online fraud. Whether it is responding to a fraudulent email with bank account details or being defrauded through a false relationship, fraud can have a life-changing impact on an individual victim. For many victims, this goes beyond pure monetary losses and impacts their physical and emotional health and well-being. Historically, fraud has not been the priority of police or government agencies; however, increased developments in technology mean that fraud is affecting a greater number of victims than ever before. The online nature of many fraudulent approaches carries with it a new set of unique challenges associated with the policing and prevention of online fraud, and victim support services are currently not well equipped (if even in existence) to deal with the aftermath of victimization.

Article

Extortion as a crime has long attracted the interest of scholars, and much effort has been put into coining a precise definition that would allow distinguishing it from other similar predatory practices such as blackmail, bribery, coercion, and robbery. Academic literature classifies extortive practices according to their degree of complexity and involvement of organized crime. In this sense, the simplest form of extortion displays one offender who receives a one-time benefit from one victim, while the most sophisticated form is illustrated by racketeering, whereby an organized crime group systematically extorts money from multiple victims. Extortion as an organized crime activity can involve both episodic extortion practices and well-rooted systemic practices over a certain territory, where the latter is usually regarded as perpetrated by Mafia-type criminal organizations. Some scholars argue that extortion racketeering as a Mafia crime should be defined as sale and provision of extralegal protection services—protection of property rights, dispute resolution, and enforcement of contracts. However, others contend that extortion by Mafia-type organizations should not be counted as an economic activity but rather be considered as an illegal form of taxation imposed by quasi-political groups. In economic terms, it is a transfer of value and creates no economic output. In contrast with the traditional understanding of extortion racketeering as “defining activity of organized crime,” some scholars have also focused on “extortion under the color of office,” or, in other words, extortion perpetrated by public servants or politicians in their official capacity. Extortion has often been compared with bribery, since both crimes can be defined as an unlawful conversion of properties and goods belonging to someone else for one’s own personal use and benefit. The debate on the differences between bribery and extortion, however, is a contested one, and has followed two lines of argument: respectively, the degree of coercion involved in the crime and the role (or modus operandi) of public officials in the bribery and extortive scheme. The common element for both crimes is the fact that representatives of the state abuse their power and official position for their own benefit.