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Corporate Crime

'Now as through this world I ramble,

I see lots of funny men,
Some rob you with a six gun,
And some with a fountain pen.'
(Woody Guthrie, 'Pretty Boy Floyd')
'The real criminals in this society are not all the people who populate the prisons across
the state, but those people who have stolen the wealth of the world from the people.'
(Angela Davis)
'hat can be done to reduce significantly the volume of !illing, maiming and economic
deprivation caused by corporate crime" #ne brief terse answer is $$$$ all%'
(Box, 'Power, Crime and ysti!i"ation')

arxist a##roa"hes to $aw
&or 'arxists, the state, which ma!es the law, represents (directly or indirectly) the
interests of the ruling "lass% *aw is a coercive instrument of the state, used to maintain
the existing social order.
hile some laws protect us all they do not protect us all e+ually.
',riminal laws against murder, rape, robbery and assault do protect us all but they do not
protect the less powerful from being !illed, sexually exploited, deprived of their property,
or physically and psychologically damaged through the greed, apathy, negligence,
indifference and the unaccountability of the relatively more powerful.'
(&hio, '()*)
Cor#orate "rime is a real +iller,
-egle"t o! sa!ety e.ui#ment / Pi#er Al#ha, 0erald o! Free 1nter#rise%
2nade.uate testing / Ford Pinto, $ow dose "ontra"e#tive #ills%
Avoida3le industrial disease4a""idents%

,orporate crime in-ures
'% Thalidomide . /000 . ,hemie 1runenthal falsified test data and concealed the truth
about side effects.
5% #pren"

,orporate crime robs
'% 1eneral 2lectric . price fixing 340 million.
5% 5offman *a 6oche . 7alium . N5S overcharging 894 million.
6% 'axwell . pension fund.
#verall, the economic cost of corporate crime is greater than any other form of crime.
Additionally, there is the social cost, corporate crime often involves a betrayal of trust.

Pear"e ('()7) 'Crimes o! the #ower!ul'
2xamines the relationship between the ruling class and crime: argues that the ruling class
often uses criminals: for example.
Ford and G 3oth used stri+e3rea+ers%
Control o! 8nions%

Cham3liss ('()*) '9n the ta+e, From #etty "roo+s to Presidents'
Suggests that the ruling class is an integral part of the criminal world.
Study of Seattle, ;<=9.;<>9.
,rime occurs in all social strata . differences are in type of crime committed and in level
of law enforcement.
*eading crime syndicate . establishment figures: businessmen, politics, law enforcement.
,riminals belong to the elite.
6uling elite benefits from crime . money laundered finances legitimate business.
6uling elite crime is not penalised . blind eye and police corruption.
'arxists also refer to laws which are not passed (or even discussed). Acts that are not
defined as crimes . for example, laws on wealth and poverty, hunger, etc.
'Isn?t it time to raise serious +uestions about the assumptions underlying the definitions of
the field of criminology, when a man who steals a paltry sum can be called a criminal
while agents of the state can, with impunity, legally reward men who destroy food so that
price levels can be maintained whilst a si@eable proportion of the population suffers from
(0 and : ;"hwendinger, '()<)
'Those who are well off commit acts that are not defined as crimes and yet are as harmful
or more so than the crimes people fear.'
($ea and =oung, '(*>)
'arxists argue that ideological hegemony (ruling class control of beliefs) ensures that
these ideas are not even discussed, or are regarded as nonsensical.

Crime, Who gets "aught?
,rime is widespread but official statistics give the impression that crime is largely a
wor!ing class phenomenon. This is refuted by studies.
'iddle class crime is more expensive. Numerous examples, Con+lin ('())) robbery in
AS cost 3B.C billion: hite collar crime 3C0 billion.
Drosecution of the elite is rare, but occasional prosecution maintains the myth of e+uality
before the law . '-ustice is blind'. The small number of elite prosecutions creates the
impression that elite crime is minimal.
$aw en!or"ement serves to #rote"t the "a#italist system,
,rime is presented as an individual #ro3lem . the system itself is not seen as a cause of
deviance. Individuals rather than institutions and structural arrangements are to 'blame'
for crime.
Ey defining criminals as misfits it provides a -ustification for imprisonment: the nasty
products of capitalism are thereby !ept hidden and this avoids +uestioning the system that
produces such behaviour, for example, rapists and muggers. Additionally, such criminals
can become scapegoats for the frustrations of the wor!ing class.
0all et al, 'Poli"ing the Crisis' suggests that moral panics (muggers, football hooligans,
poll tax rioters) occur as diversions during the crises of capitalism and they -ustify
increases in social control measures.
Box, 'Power, Crime and ysti!i"ation' suggests that the social control function of the
police is of special importance. The police act as a 'front line' mechanism of oppression.
In times of political crises, for example, the miner's stri!e, the urban riots of ;</;, the
police are given greater freedom to act against subordinate groups.
''uch police behaviour seems most easily explained when one considers that whenever
there is a conflict of interests between the dominant classes in a society and less powerful
groups, the police protect the interests of the former and regulate the behaviour of the
(Galliher, '()')

;te#hen Box / arxist analysis
In traditional 'arxist analysis, crime is created by the social structure. In capitalist
society, the desire for profit leads to greed and competition and breeds aggression. ,rime
is seen as rational behaviour, a response to the nature of capitalist society. The type of
response merely varies by class location, for example, wor!ing class mugging, stealing,
prostitution: middle class business fraud.
Eelow is a taster of a 'arxist analysis of crime drawn from ;te#hen Box, 'Power,
Crime and ysti!i"ation',
Some sociologists have... come to the conclusion that criminal law categories are
ideological constructs... designed to criminalise only some behaviours, usually those
committed by the relatively powerless, and to exclude others, usually those fre+uently
committed by the powerful against subordinates. ,riminal law categories are resources,
tools, instruments, designed and then used to criminalise, demoralise... and sometimes
eliminate those problem populations perceived by the powerful to be potentially or
actually threatening the existing distribution of power, wealth or privilege.
Not every criminal law represents the interests of the ruling class. Some laws are passed
purely as symbolic victories which the dominant class grants to inferior interest groups,
basically to !eep them +uiet: once passed they need never be efficiently or systematically
enforced. #ccasionally, the ruling class is forced into tactical retreat by organised
subordinate groups... but these victories are short lived. Dowerful groups have ways and
means of clawing bac! the spoils of tactical defeats. In the last instance, definitions of
crime reflect the interests of those groups who comprise the ruling class.
Some criminal laws are in all our interests. None of us wants to be murdered... none of us
wants our property stolenF in that sense criminal law against murder, for example, is in
all our interests. Eut this is not all the truth... some groups of people benefit more than
others from these laws. It is not that they are less li!ely to be murdered or raped, for
example, although the best evidence shows this to be true . but that in the criminal law,
definitions of murder, rape, theft and other serious crimes are so constructed as to exclude
many similar acts, and these are -ust the acts li!ely to be committed more fre+uently by
powerful individuals.
The criminal law defines only some types of avoidable !illing as murder: it excludes, for
example, deaths resulting from acts of negligence, such as employers failure to maintain
safe wor!ing conditions: or deaths which result from governmental agencies giving
environmental health ris!s a low priority: or deaths resulting from drug manufacturers
failure to conduct ade+uate research: or deaths from a dangerous drug that was approved
by health authorities on the strength of a bribe: or deaths resulting from car manufacturers
refusing to recall defective vehicles because they calculate that the costs of meeting civil
damages will be less.
e are encouraged to see murder as a particular act involving a very limited range of
stereotypical actors, instruments, situations and motives. #ther types of avoidable !illing
are either defined as a less serious crime, or as matters more appropriate for civil
proceedings... it may be -ust a strange coincidence that the social characteristics of those
persons more li!ely to commit these types of avoidable !illings differs considerably to
those possessed by individuals more li!ely to commit !illings legally defined as murder.
The criminal law sees only some types of property deprivation as robbery or theft, it
excludes, for example, manufacturer's malpractices or advertiser's misrepresentation: it
excludes shareholders losing money because managers behaved in ways that benefited
only themselves: it excludes the extra tax citi@ens have to pay because the wealthy are
able to avoid tax, or because drug companies overcharge the N5S. If an employee's hand
slips into the boss's poc!et and removes any spare cash, that is theft: if the boss puts his
hand into the employee's poc!ets and ta!es their spare cash by reducing wages even
below the legal minimum, that is the labour mar!et operating reasonably.
The criminal law includes only one type of non.consensual sexual act as rape. It excludes
sexual intercourse between husband and wife (not now though)F It excludes sexual acts
achieved by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. It excludes men who use economic or
social power rather than force. The outcome is that men who have few resources other
than physical ones are more li!ely to commit legally defined rape.
Thus criminal laws against murder, rape, robbery and assault do protect us all but they do
not protect us all e+ually. They do not protect the less powerful from being !illed,
sexually exploited, deprived of what little liberty they possess, or being physically or
psychologically damaged through the greed, apathy, negligence and unaccountability of
the relatively more powerful.
Another exam#le o! the wor+ o! Box is,
@e"ession Crime and Punishment ('(*))
Is there a lin! between recession and crime, including corporate crime"
&here has always 3een less resear"h on "or#orate "rime,
Scarce funding.
Ideological bias.
ost studies !o"us on one dramati" exam#le,
Dinto car scandal (Gowie,;<>>) &ord 'otor ,o 400.<00 deaths.
Scotia ,oal ,o (,audill,;<>>) 9= deaths.
2lectrical Industries Drice fixing (1eis,;<=>) 9< leading companies.
New Right Realism
6ealist criminologies are so called because of their emphasis on treating crime as a real
and serious social problem that re+uires #ra"ti"al solutions, rather than simply a
sociological problem that re+uires understanding. There is a commitment in this approach
to pragmatic, policy.orientated research.
These approaches came about in response to an increased concern over crime during the
;</0's, and also to a considerable rise in recorded crime. The 'law and order'debate
became . and continues to be . (tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime) a central
electoral issue.
In the mid >0's in the ASA,Wilson ('()<) '&hin+ing a3out Crime', claimed that crime
resulted from selfish and wic!ed people, and that the criminal -ustice system had gone
'soft' on criminals. ilson (6eagan's adviser on crime) advocated the strengthening of
penalties for crime. Ey the ;<<0's, the ASA had the highest rate of imprisonment in the
'uch of the right realist approach comes across li!e common sense, yet it also draws on
liberal ideas of freedom, choice (criminals chose crime), and responsibility. There are
also functionalist ideas concerning communities and social order, at present reflected in
the *abour Darty debate concerning "ommunitarianism%
Aey areas o! analysis
'% Poverty
The lin! between crime and poverty is +uestioned, specifically the idea that poverty
causes crime. ilson, in fact argues that affluence and prosperity may well be more
lin!ed to rising crime. It was from the early ;<=0's, a period that saw the longest
sustained period of prosperity since orld ar II that crime in the ASA started to soar. It
rose at a faster rate and to higher levels than at any time since the ;<B0's.
'It all began in about 1963. That was the year, to over-dramatise a bit, that a decade began to
fall aart.'
(Wilson, '()<)

5% Culture
It is suggested that there has been a decline in 'civility' and respect for authority in
communities that are characterised by anomie and "ultural dis/organisation% Special
mention is made of 'fatherless families' and its detrimental effect on young men denied an
appropriate role model.
&here is a denial o! any dire"t asso"iation 3etween unem#loyment and "rime%
A""ording to Dennis and 1rdos ('((5),
'5igh unemployment was associated with low criminality in the ;<B0's. *ow
unemployment was associated with growing criminality in the ;<=0's. Anemployment
between these extremes was associated with high and rapidly increasing crime in the
mid.;</0's. In the early ;<<0's, there was high unemployment and high crime rates.'
1iven the lac! of correlation between unemployment and crime, which could have
formed the basis for a structural explanation of crime, the new right turns to a cultural
explanation. They see a decline in '!amily values', in particular a lac! of discipline both
inside and outside the home.
urray ('((B), on the other hand, blames the welfare state. 5e argues that the welfare
state has sapped moral fibre and eroded ,hristian ethics thus threatening family values.
The welfare state, it is argued, has created a 'de#enden"y "ulture', which results in the
wea!ening of the wor! ethic. The result is a social sic!ness, which reduces the strength of
those moral values and mechanisms of social control so essential for preventing criminal

6% 9##ortunity and "hoi"e
2xclusive blame is not placed on cultural factors outside of the control of individuals,
such a view would be cultural determinism, and would remove, at least partially the
notion of 'blame' and individual responsibility. 1iven their commitment to the idea that
persons exercise choice and freedom of action it follows that they see an important aspect
of deviant and criminal behaviour as freely chosen.
Peo#le do not have to 3e deviant%
A similar emphasis on choice can be seen in the wor! of Clar+e and ayhew ('(*B) at
the 5ome #ffice. Their concern is the practical +uestion of how to control crime . hence
the term ,ontrol Theory. The +uestion, why do #eo#le "ommit "rime? is reversed and
instead they as! the +uestion, why don't #eo#le "ommit "rime?Their answer is because
of social control and deterrents. Two factors in particular are identified, 'target hardening'
and 'surveillance'. Although not actually right realists themselves, ,lar!e and 'ayhew do
lend support to the belief that crime and delin+uency is a result of choice.
Crime Statistics
Contem#orary #atterns
@einer ('((7) #oints to a num3er o! "lear #atterns,
Eetween the wars the level of crime remained relatively constant.
6ecorded crime has increased rapidly since ;<40.
The ;<<C and ;<<4 crime statistics illustrate a =H fall in recorded crime.
&he uses o! statisti"s,
,omparison . reveal trends.
Dolice efficiency . clear up rate.
Identify problem areas . resource allocation.
Dublic information . for example, high crime areas.
To explain crime . causation (positivism).
5owever, the general view is that they reveal more about the process of reporting and
recording than about the extent of criminal activity.
It is generally agreed that crime statistics are seriously flawed and that there is a dar+
!igure o! hidden "rime%

Fa"tors that distort "rime statisti"s
'% &he #u3li"
ost "rime is re#orted 3y the #u3li" (BC% &he BC; !ound that the #u3li",
Gon't report petty crime.
6eport for personal advantage . insurance.
Gon't report what they see as private matters . domestics.
Gon't report friendsIfamily.
Gon't report crime that could shameIfrighten them.
Gon't report crimes that are un!nown . don't realise.
*ea and Joung '*osing the fight' . some communities won't report crime. *ac! of
confidence in police.

5% Disi3ility
,rimes without victims . drug dealing: prostitution.
hite. collar crime . 'fiddles', 'per!s' . for example, Gitton.
,ustomersIpeople unaware they are victims.
,orporate crime . often dealt with by other state agencies.
Gon't want to get 'involved'.
In some communities, 'informal' policing might be used.
Some crimes more li!ely to be reported . rape, assault over.represented in official
Dolice crime . Eox (;<<4) beating up suspects, fabricating evidence, etc.

6% Poli"e
&he Poli"e de"ide,
6esponse . more li!ely to respond to some groups . DSI survey of the met.
&ound more li!ely to respond to ethnic minorities%
,ategories . police decide what category a crime fits.
Gispersal . police decide which areas to police.
Gifferential enforcement . some offences rather than others.
Giscretion . who to stop.
,ulture . promotion see!ing . arrests are important.

>% Courts
/0H of offenders plead guilty . possibility of plea bargaining . negotiating
Kustice, 6obertson (;<>>).
'a-ority who appear in court are wor!ing class.

<% edia and #oliti"s
2xistence of 'moral entrepreneurs'.
'arxists argue that law is used to repress wor!ing class. Dolice concentrate on wor!ing
class areas.
'edia amplifies deviance and creates moral panics.

The statistics are so inaccurate that we don't !now if a recorded rise in crime is actually a
rise, or -ust an increase in convictions. Similarly, with a fall in the crime rate, is it an
a"tual !all or Eust the result o! !ewer "onvi"tions?
#nly about B0H of recorded crime is actually 'solved'. Therefore, we can't tell to what
extent convicted criminals resemble un.convicted ones.

Attem#ts to im#rove the relia3ility o! statisti"s
;el!/re#ort studies
Box, Devian"e, @eality and ;o"iety "laimed that,
The figures are not valid . people lie.
The offences are trivial and of little relevance.
They are not representative . deals with delin+uency rather than crime.

Di"tim surveys
First used in 8;A with staggering results% BC; started in '(*'% ost re"ent F '((*%
A large gap between crime committed and that recorded by police.
'ost crime committed against young males.