ThesisPDF Available

Crimes of the Powerful (White-collar) vs. Crimes of the Powerless (Blue-collar) - Is there a distinction between how these crimes are perceived by the public, and penalised by judicial systems in the USA?

Authors:

Abstract

This study investigates whether the public and judicial systems (In the U.S.) show partiality towards crimes committed by the socially and economically powerful (White-collar crime), whilst dealing more punitively with crimes committed by the powerless (Blue-collar crime). This research argues that the disproportionately high severity of punishment for blue-collar crime is as a result of the immediate damaging effect these crimes have on individuals and/or communities. This research also argues that crimes should be penalized in proportion to the damaging effects they have both in the short term and long term. It is also argued that the public is often manipulated by the media via an over-emphasis of reporting blue-collar crimes due to their popularity and marketability, and suggests that the media must be more balanced and take more responsibility of educating the public and raising awareness of white-collar crime. This will help to decrease public bias towards support of harsher punishment for the crimes of the powerless which have more immediate, direct consequences (and more publicity), and enlighten the public to enable them to also see the catastrophic long-term effects white-collar crime has on society as a whole. This is important because popular punitivism has an effect on the shaping of penal policy. This research concludes, based on the research results, that there truly is a distinction between how the public perceives white-collar and blue-collar offences, and how judicial systems in the U.S. penalize these crimes in terms of celerity, severity & certainty.
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A"Dissertation"submitted"in"partial"fulfilment"of"a"
Masters"in"Youth"Justice,"Community"Safety"and"
Applied"Criminology."
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Q:!"Crimes!of!the!Powerful!(White-collar)!vs.!Crimes!
of!the!Powerless!(Blue-collar)!-!Is!there!a!distinction!
between!how!these!crimes!are!perceived!by!the!
public,!and!penalised!by!judicial!systems!in!the!USA?"!
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Supervisor:!Dr!David!Porteous!
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Institution:!Middlesex!University!
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Student"ID:!M00511684!
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Acknowledgments!
I!would!like!to!thank!all!the!authors!who!worked!hard!to!pioneer!this!largely!
unexplored!field!of!study.!I!am!grateful!for!all!your!efforts!and!I!hope!this!will!
prove!to!be!a!good!summary!of!all!you!have!worked!hard!to!produce.!
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And!most!importantly,!
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I!will!like!to!thank!my!Lord!and!Saviour!Jesus!Christ!and!my!best!friend!The!Holy!
Spirit,!for!giving!me!the!strength!to!persevere!and!not!give!up!even!when!things!
seemed!impossible.!May!the!ideas!you!have!produced!in!and!through!me!be!the!
foundation!for!greater!future!exploits!in!the!academic!and!corporate!world.!!
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Contents""""Page"No."
Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………….."4"
Chapter"1:"Introduction"&"Methodology……………………………………………….."5"
Research!question/!Hypothesis…….……………………………………………………………!8!
Significance!of!this!Research……………………………………………………………………...!9!
Methodology!(Summary)!………………………………………………………………………….!10!
Limitations!of!the!study……………………………………………………………………………..!11!
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Chapter"2:"Literature"Review………………………………………………………………..."12"
The!U.S.!Public’s!Perception………………………………………………………………………!14!
The!U.S!public’s!Perceived!Seriousness…………………………………………………......!15!
Cesare!Beccaria!(On!Crimes!and!Punishment)……………………………………..…….!20!
Disparities!in!How!Crimes!are!Penalised……………………………………………………!21!
Summary!………………………………………………………………………………………………...!25!
Gaps!in!Research………………………………………………………………………………………!25!
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Chapter"3:"Analysis"of"Key"themes………………………………………………………."26"
Key!Themes!on!the!U.S.!Public’s!Perception……………………………………………….!26!
Key!Themes!on!Disparities!in!Punishment…………………………………………………!28!
Key!themes!on!Gaps!in!Research……………………………………………………………….!30!
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Chapter"4:"Conclusion………………………………………………………………………….."31"
References……………………………………………………………………………………………"35""
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Abstract"
This!study!investigates!whether!the!public!and!judicial!systems!(In!the!U.S.)!show!
partiality!towards!crimes!committed!by!the!socially!and!economically!powerful!
(White-collar!crime),!whilst!dealing!more!punitively!with!crimes!committed!by!the!
powerless!(Blue-collar!crime).!This!research!argues!that!the!disproportionately!
high!severity!of!punishment!for!blue-collar!crime!is!as!a!result!of!the!immediate!
damaging!effect!these!crimes!have!on!individuals!and/or!communities.!This!
research!also!argues!that!crimes!should!be!penalized!in!proportion!to!the!
damaging!effects!they!have!both!in!the!short!term!but!long!term.!It!is!also!argued!
that!the!public!is!often!manipulated!by!the!media!via!an!over-emphasis!of!
reporting!blue-collar!crimes!due!to!their!popularity!and!marketability,!and!
suggests!that!the!media!must!be!more!balanced!and!take!more!responsibility!of!
educating!the!public!and!raising!awareness!of!white-collar!crime.!This!will!help!to!
decrease!public!bias!towards!support!of!harsher!punishment!for!the!crimes!of!the!
powerless!which!have!more!immediate,!direct!consequences!(and!more!publicity),!
and!enlighten!the!public!to!enable!them!to!also!see!the!catastrophic!long-term!
effects!white-collar!crime!has!on!society!as!a!whole.!This!is!important!because!
popular!punitivism!has!an!effect!on!the!shaping!of!penal!policy.!This!research!will!
then!conclude,!based!on!the!research!results,!whether!there!truly!is!a!distinction!
between!how!the!public!perceives!white-collar!and!blue-collar!offences!and!how!
judicial!systems!in!the!U.S.!penalize!these!crimes!in!terms!of!celerity,!severity!&!
certainty.!
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Introduction"&"Methodology"
Crimes!committed!by!the!socio-economically!‘powerful’!in!the!form!of!white-
collar!crime!are!specific!types!of!illegal!activities!that!are!responsible!for!some!of!
the!greatest!financial!catastrophes!ever!to!occur!in!the!Unites!Sates!of!America.!
Every!year!this!category!of!crime!costs!the!U.S.!economy!between!$250!billion-!
$1!trillion!worth!of!financial!damage!(Friedrichs,!2009,!p.50).!When!compared!to!
Blue-collar!crimes!(often!referred!to!as!street!crime),!the!economic!damage!done!
to!the!United!States!economy!by!white-collar!criminals!is!much!greater.!
However,!much!of!it!goes!unnoticed!and!even!unpunished.!Crimes!committed!by!
the!socio-economically!‘powerless’!in!the!form!of!blue-collar!crime!are!also!
expensive!costing!the!U.S.!economy!$14!billion!every!year.!Much!of!this!money!is!
spent!on!policing!neighbourhoods!to!keep!the!public!safe!from!the!crimes!
perceived!as!most!threatening!to!their!welfare.!Much!of!this!perception!can!be!
attributed!to!the!fear!the!media!perpetuates!through!glorifying!the!crimes!of!the!
powerless!by!broadcasting!the!latest!shooting,!stabbing!or!burglary!hastily!to!
grab!the!general!public’s!attention!with!a!‘shockingly!interesting!story’.!The!dull!
stories!of!white-collar!happenings!such!as!fraud!and!tax!evasion!scandals!rarely!
grip!the!attention!of!the!public!for!the!full,!dragged!out!length!of!the!judicial!
proceedings,!in!spite!of!its!long-term,!negative!implications.!As!a!result,!due!to!
politicians!often!prioritizing!the!immediate!pressing!issues!within!the!realms!of!
public!and!political!discourse,!addressing!blue-collar!crime!is!given!priority!in!
spite!of!it!being!less!damaging!to!the!American!society!and!economy!as!a!whole.!
This!sociological!problem!stresses!the!great!need!of!research!that!is!needed!in!
this!area!of!criminology,!to!help!educate!aspiring!academics!and!practitioners!in!
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this!field,!to!understand!the!seriousness!of!both!crimes,!eliminating!bias;!so!they!
can!better!address!such!issues!within!the!contexts!of!their!professions.!!
There!has!been!much!ambiguity!surrounding!the!initial!definition!of!white-collar!
crime!coined!by!Edwin!Sutherland!who!defined!this!phenomenon!as:!“a!crime!
committed!by!a!person!of!respectability!and!high!social!status!in!the!course!of!
their!occupation”!(Sutherland,!1949).!The!reason!for!this!ambiguity!is!because!of!
how!vague!and!loose!this!definition!was!(Robin,!1974).!To!overcome!this!
ambiguity!and!for!the!sake!of!this!research,!an!official!government,!offense-based!
perspective!will!be!used!to!define!white-collar!crime:!!
“Those!illegal!acts!which!are!characterized!by!deceit,!concealment,!or!violation!of!
trust!and!which!are!not!dependent!upon!the!application!or!threat!of!physical!
force!or!violence.!Individuals!and!organizations!commit!these!acts!to!obtain!
money,!property,!or!services;!to!avoid!payment!or!loss!of!money!or!services;!or!
to!secure!personal!or!business!advantage.”!(Payne,!2012;!United!States!
Department!of!Justice,!1989,!p.!3).!
Building!on!Sutherland’s!work,!Clinard!and!Quinney!(1973)!argued!that!white-
collar!crime!could!be!divided!into!two!main!sub-groups:!corporate!crime!and!
occupational!crime.!Corporate!crimes!were!viewed!as!illegal!behaviours!
committed!by!corporations!or!employees!to!benefit!the!corporation,!company,!or!
business.!Whilst!occupational!crimes!were,!“violations!of!legal!codes!in!the!
course!of!activity!in!a!legitimate!occupation.”!This!was!another!step!taken!by!
researchers!to!further!overcome!the!ambiguity!surrounding!Sutherland’s!
‘overly-broad’!definition!of!white-collar!crime!(Clinard!&!Quinney!(1973).!As!the!
research!title!suggests,!the!main!types!of!offenders!in!these!categories!that!this!
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research!will!be!focusing!on!are!socially!and!economically!powerful!individuals;!
leaders!of!corporations!that!are!trusted!by!the!public!and!are!economically!
wealthy.!This!research!will!solely!be!analysing!economically!motivated!white-
collar!crimes.!The!reason!for!this!is!due!to!its!high!frequency,!thus!allowing!for!
richer,!more!in-depth!data!collection,!comparison!and!analysis.!!
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Blue-collar!crimes!can!be!simply!defined!as:!
“!…A!term!given!to!criminal!acts!more!likely!to!be!committed!by!citizens!of!a!
lower!social!class!in!society,!such!as!those!which!inflict!direct!harm!on!the!
person!or!property!of!others….!For!the!most!part,!blue-collar!crime!entails!
whatever!crimes!are!most!immediately!possible!for!a!person!to!commit,!those!
that!are!most!often!spurred!by!passion!rather!than!those!that!require!careful!
deliberation.!Blue-collar!crimes!are,!for!the!most!part,!those!that!cause!an!
immediate!and!highly!visible!injury!to!society…”!(Graham,!2012;!Mojolaw,!2007).!
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The!type!of!offender!this!research!will!focus!on!is!the!socially!and!economically!
powerless;!those!individuals!who!are!not!held!in!high!esteem!by!the!public,!and!
are!economically!deficient.!This!research!will!solely!be!analysing!economically!
motivated!blue-collar!crimes.!The!reason!for!this!is!because!of!their!frequency,!
which!will!aid!in!collecting!richer!data!and!drawing!comparisons!between!
economically!motivated!white-collar!crimes!in!the!form!of!fraud.!
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Based!on!the!two!definitions!listed!above,!it!is!possible!to!gain!insight!into!the!
different!possible!causes/motives!of!upper!and!lower!world!crimes.!The!crimes!
of!the!powerful!are!committed!through!opportunism,!and!involve!complex,!well-
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thought-out!procedures!for!the!purpose!of!financial!and!personal!gain.!This!type!
of!crime!is!best!explained!with!rational!choice!theories!of!crime,!which!suggest!
that!offenders!are!reasoning!actors!that!weigh!the!costs!and!benefits!before!
making!a!rational!choice!to!offend!(Clarke,!1995).!The!crimes!of!the!powerless!
are!committed!predominantly!due!to!external!factors!(such!as!inequality),!which!
spur!passion!in!an!individual,!causing!them!to!commit!such!crimes.!This!type!of!
crime!is!best!explained!with!Merton’s!(1957)!strain!theory!of!crime,!which!
suggests!that!social!structures!within!society!may!pressure!citizens!to!commit!
crime.!In!light!of!this,!it!can!be!strongly!argued!that!economically!motivated!
white-collar!crimes!committed!by!the!powerful!elite,!manufacture!the!social-
structural!problems!in!society!that!facilitate!blue-collar!crime.!!
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Research"Question/Hypothesis"
This!dissertation!will!investigate!whether!the!public!and!judicial!systems!(In!the!
U.S.)!show!partiality!towards!the!crimes!committed!by!the!socially!and!
economically!powerful!(White-collar!crime),!whilst!dealing!more!punitively!with!
crimes!committed!by!the!powerless!(Blue-collar!crime)."
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Expected!outcomes!are!that!this!research!will!evidence!that!that!the!socio-
economic!power!and!influence!white-collar!criminals!have!is!the!control!agent!
used!to!greatly!influence!the!media!and!to!reduce!the!celerity,!certainty!and!
severity!of!punishments!dealt!to!white-collar!criminals.!Also,!that!the!media!in!
the!U.S.!are!greatly!responsible!for!how!the!public!perceives!white-collar!and!
blue-collar!crimes.!And!finally,!that!the!public!and!judicial!systems!in!the!U.S.!are!
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harsher!towards!penalising!blue-collar!crimes!and!more!lenient!towards!
penalising!white-collar!crimes.!!
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Significance"of"this"Research"
Researching!on!this!topic!is!important!because!white-collar!crime!is!an!often-
neglected!area!in!criminology;!resulting!many!gaps!in!this!area!of!research,!thus,!
making!blue-collar!crime!the!main!area!of!enquiry!within!academia!and!policy.!
This!is!due!to!a!number!of!reasons,!including!unclear!definitions!of!white-collar!
crime,!making!it!an!often-confusing!topic!for!researchers!(Payne,!2012).!
Consequently,!without!a!solid!definition!of!white-collar!crime,!the!most!effective!
solutions!to!the!problem!cannot!be!determined!(Payne,!2012).!The!lack!of!a!solid!
definition!has!also!hindered!detection!efforts,!making!it!hard!to!fully!gauge!the!
full!extent!of!the!problem.!It!is!also!important!for!more!research!to!be!done!in!
this!area!so!that!awareness!can!be!raised!within!academic!institutions!and!then!
filter!through!to!work-based!settings!and!into!society.!It!is!important!for!the!
public!to!be!more!aware!and!have!a!fairer!view!of!both!types!of!crimes!so!that!
public!urgency!about!white-collar!crime!is!increased,!so!that!politicians!are!
obligated!to!respond!by!directing!more!resources!toward!dealing!with!this!
problem!(Holtfreter!et!al.,!2008).!This!research!is!a!step!toward!raising!societal!
awareness!about!the!white-collar!crimes!that!are!often!hidden!and!illusive.!A!
final!reason!why!this!research!is!significant!is!because,!if!it!can!be!established!
and!evidenced!sufficiently!that!there!is!a!bias!in!the!public’s!perception!towards!
the!support!of!harsher!punishments!dealt!to!blue-collar!criminals!in!the!U.S.,!on!
this!basis,!more!researchers!are!likely!to!be!inspired!to!do!further!research!into!
tackling!this!issue.!!
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Methodology"(Summary)""
This!dissertation!will!be!reviewing!the!current!state!of!how!the!American!public!
perceives!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!and!whether!judicial!systems!in!the!
U.S.!penalise!these!two!crimes!distinctively.!The!focus!of!this!study!is!on!the!
United!States!of!America!because!it!is!the!nation!where!the!most!research!has!
been!undertaken!in!the!area!of!white-collar.!!
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The!data!will!be!gathered!by!using!secondary!research!in!the!form!of!research!
studies,!journal!articles!and!books!related!to!the!research!question!on!how!
white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!are!perceived!by!the!public!and!penalised!by!
judicial!systems!in!the!USA.!These!sources!are!referenced!throughout!this!study!
and!also!collated!in!the!references!section!of!this!paper.!
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This!research!will!also!conduct!an!extensive!review!of!the!current!literature!
available!on!this!topic!and!following!on!from!this,!there!will!be!an!analysis!of!the!
key!themes!that!emerge!from!these!studies/research.!There!will!mainly!be!an!
emphasis!on!exploring!white-collar!crimes!in!more!depth!due!to!there!being!a!
lack!of!research!about!this!topic.!!
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This!research!will!then!analyse!and!interpret!and!draw!comparisons!on!the!key!
themes!that!emerge!from!data!gathered!in!the!literature!about!white-collar!and!
blue-collar!crimes;!their!effects!on!society;!the!motives!behind!them!(using!
theories!to!explain!these!motives);!the!American!public’s!perception!of!white-
collar!and!blue-collar!crime!and!whether!there!is!a!distinction!between!how!
these!crimes!are!penalized!by!judicial!systems!in!the!United!States.!Reference!to!
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relevant!theories!will!also!be!made!with!the!aim!of!developing!a!better!
understand!the!subject!of!study.!
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Lastly,!based!on!the!key!themes!that!emerged!from!the!review!of!current!
literature,!the!researcher!will!determine!whether!current!literature!supports!the!
hypothesis!of!this!dissertation!and!will!suggest!recommendations!for!future!
research/action!to!help!tackle!the!issues!highlighted.!
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In!summary!this!dissertation!is!structured!as!follows:!(1)!a!review!of!the!current!
literature/studies!on!the!research!topic,!(2)!an!analysis!of!the!key!themes!that!
emerge!from!the!existing!literature!and,!(3)!conclusions!and!recommendations!
for!future!research.!
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Limitations"of"this"study"
As!this!dissertation!is!primarily!theoretical,!it!will!rely!on!the!use!of!conceptual!
and!analytic!methods!of!research,!rather!than!the!gathering!and!interpretation!of!
empirical!data. This!is!due!to!time!and!resource!barriers,!which!prevent!the!
collection!of!primary!data.!The!time!barriers!are!the!relative!short!time!scale!
allowed!for!this!particular!piece!of!work.!The!resource!barriers!include!a!lack!of!
funding!to!travel!overseas!to!conduct!primary!research,!as!well!as!there!being!no!
guarantee!that!white-collar!criminals!would!make!themselves!available!for!
interviewing.!This!can!also!be!said!for!blue-collar!criminals,!however!there!is!a!
much!more!dense!population!of!blue-collar!criminals,!thus,!heightening!the!
probability!of!successfully!acquiring!primary!data.!Nevertheless,!secondary!
research!is!the!best!method!of!data!collection!for!this!piece!of!research!due!to!
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these!limitations.!Lastly,!due!to!the!limited!number!of!studies!available!for!this!
research!to!refer!to,!this!may!infringe!upon!the!reliability!of!the!results!of!this!
piece!of!work.!Also!due!to!the!lack!of!research!done!on!specific!white-collar!
crimes,!there!will!be!some!vagueness!regarding!the!specific!types!of!fraudulent,!
white-collar!crimes!mentioned.!
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Literature"Review"
White-collar!crime!is!a!widespread!problem!that!receives!little!attention.!It!is!not!
characterized!by!drama,!nor!is!it!exciting!or!interesting!to!hear!about,!and!the!
American!public!generally!does!not!understand!what!white-collar!crime!is!
(Graham,!2012).!All!people!of!different!ages,!and!classes!are!familiar!with!blue-
collar!crimes!such!as!murder,!robbery!or!rape,!and!can!grasp!these!emotional!
events,!which!incite!anger,!disgust,!and!sadness.!Unfortunately!however,!white-
collar!crime!does!not!incite!the!same!emotional!reactions!among!the!American!
public.!Instead!of!evoking!feelings!of!rage!and!disappointment,!white-collar!
crimes!such!as!securities!fraud!and!corrupt!loans!usually!leave!people!feeling!
confused!(Graham,!2012).!This!often!results!in!white-collar!crime!being!under!
prioritized,!and!is!neglected!by!the!media!and!politicians,!when!crime!prevention!
budgets!are!made!(Graham,!2012).!Blue-collar!crime!often!has!horrific!
consequences,!and!deserves!its!fair!share!of!focus,!within!fields!of!study,!and!in!
society.!It!is!expensive,!distressing!and!can!negatively!impact!people’s!lives!
forever!(A,WCC).!!
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The!consequences!of!white-collar!crimes!in!particular!usually!differ!from!that!of!
blue-collar!crimes.!The!damages!sustained!by!white-collar!crimes!such!as!fraud,!
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are!usually!reflected!in!its!negative!effects!on!the!economic!welfare!of!individuals!
and!institutions.!Whilst!the!damages!sustained!by!blue-collar!crimes!such!as!
robbery,!are!usually!felt!by!the!individuals!that!the!crimes!were!committed!
against!or!in!the!communities!where!the!crimes!happened.!The!potentially!costly!
consequences!of!white-collar!crime!can!be!grouped!in!three!categories.!The!first;!
individual!economic!loss,!the!second;!socio-economic!loss,!and!the!third;!
emotional!repercussions!(Payne,!2012).!In!terms!of!individual!economic!losses,!
when!compared!to!blue-collar!crimes,!the!average!cost!of!fraudulent!white-collar!
crimes!such!as!embezzlement,!is!around!$1,000,000,!whilst!the!average!
individual!cost!of!a!blue-collar!crime!such!as!the!robbing!of!a!local!store!is!$712!
(FBI,!2009).!In!regards!to!socio-economic!losses,!as!already!highlighted,!white-!
collar!crime!are!estimated!to!cost!the!U.S.!economy!$250!billion-!$1!trillion!every!
year,!whilst!blue-collar!crimes!cost!the!U.S!economy!approximately!$14!billion!a!
year.!These!figures!correlate!with!Surtherland’s!claims,!that!white-collar!crimes!
incur!costs!several!times!higher!than!blue-collar!crimes!(Sutherland,!1949).!The!
emotional!repercussions!of!white-collar!crime!are!usually!based!on!a!violation!of!
trust.!According!to!Sutherland!(1940),!the!violation!of!public!trust!is!a!general!
feature!of!white-collar!crime.!Those!who!are!victims!of!blue-collar!crimes!on!the!
other!hand,!did!not!trust!the!blue-collar!criminal!that!robbed!them!in!the!first!
place,!as!there!was!very!likely!no!established!relationship!or!connection.!In!
regards!to!the!public!disillusionment!(which!is!a!consequence!of!white-collar!
crime),!violations!of!trust!have!both!social!and!economic!repercussions.!
Sutherland!(1940)!summarised!this!by!saying:!“The!financial!loss!from!white-
collar!crime,!great!as!it!is,!is!less!important!than!the!damage!to!social!relations.!
White-collar!crime!violates!trust!and!therefore!creates!distrust;!this!lowers!
!
14!
social!morale!and!produces!disorganization.!Many!white-collar!crimes!attack!the!
fundamental!principles!of!the!American!institutions.!Ordinary!crimes,!on!the!
other!hand,!produce!little!effect!on!social!institutions!or!social!organization.”!(p.!
13).!
"
The"U.S."Public’s"Perception""
To!gain!a!better,!more!informed!understanding!on!how!the!public!perceives!
white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes,!it!is!important!to!first!identify!how!and!
where!the!public!receives!information!about!these!crimes!and!how!often.!The!
media!can!be!identified!as!the!most!influential!and!prominent!informer!of!
current!events!taking!place!in!the!country.!News!stations!often!go!with!the!“if!it!
bleeds,!it!leads”!slogan.!For!example,!market!research!conducted!by!Mediascope,!
(a!non-profit!media!research!and!policy!organization)!suggests!that!stories!of!
crime!and!violence!increase!newscast!ratings!(Graham,!2012).!Although!this!may!
be!the!case,!this!does!not!mean!the!public!will!necessarily!pay!attention!to!this.!
Unfortunately!however,!this!style!of!reporting!incites!psychological!responses!
from!the!public!as!dramatic!stories!instantly!grab!their!attention!and!cause!
feelings!of!worry,!anger!and!disgust!(Graham,!2012).!Deborah!Serani,!an!
American!psychologist!highlights!that!when!the!public!is!exposed!to!the!media,!
they!are!more!likely!than!others!to!do!four!things.!(1)!Feel!their!neighbourhoods!
and!communities!are!unsafe,!(2)!feel!crime!rates!are!rising,!(2)!overestimate!
their!odds!of!becoming!a!victim,!and!(5)!consider!the!world!to!be!dangerous!
(Psychology!Today,!2011).!When!people!feel!unsafe!and!have!are!worrying!about!
violent!blue-collar!crimes,!they!are!more!inclined!to!support!government!
measures!to!pour!more!resources!into!tackling!blue-collar!crimes!of!this!kind,!
!
15!
through!measures!such!as!increasing!police!presence!in!communities.!Though!
this!may!help!in!making!neighbourhoods!feel!safe,!the!far!reaching,!economically!
devastating!consequences!of!white-collar!crime!can!often!be!drowned!out!by!the!
fear!of!violent!blue-collar!crimes!(Graham,!2012).!The!influence!of!the!media!is!a!
major!contributor!to!the!public!punitive!sentiment!towards!particular!crimes.!
!
The"U.S."Public’s"Perceived"Seriousness"
There!has!been!much!research!undertaken!about!public!perceptions!of!crime.!
Unfortunately,!although!there!are!hundreds!of!studies!that!focus!on!public!
attitudes!about!crime,!only!a!minority!has!focused!on!what!the!public!thinks!
about!white-collar!crime.!Nevertheless!research!about!public!perceptions!of!
white-collar!crime!is!very!important!for!empirical,!cultural,!and!policy!driven!
reasons!(Piquero,!Carmichael,!&!Piquero,!2008).!Regarding!empirical!reasons,!
due!to!so!few!studies!having!been!done!about!what!the!public!thinks!about!
white-collar!crime,!research!on!this!topic!will!reveal,!how!the!American!public!
actually!perceive!this!category!of!offense.!Even!more!important!is,!research!of!
this!kind!provides!policy!makers!with!the!information!and!evidence!they!need!to!
develop!effective!prevention,!response!and!sentencing!strategies!(Payne,!2012).!!
Furthermore,!due!to!all!the!media!attention!that!blue-collar!crime!is!given,!the!
public!is!far!more!likely!to!develop!a!biased!perception!of!crime!rates!and!
societal!dangers.!This!causes!the!public!to!focus!their!attention!on!those!crimes!
that!are!dramatic,!isolated,!and!frightening,!rather!than!those!that!may!have!
more!of!a!long-term!effect!on!society!as!a!whole!(Graham,!2012).!In!one!of!the!
first!studies!undertaken!about!public!attitudes!about!white-collar!crime!by!
Cullen!(Cullen,!Clark,!Mathers!&!Cullen,!1983)!a!sample!of!240!adults!were!
!
16!
surveyed!and!assessed!about!their!various!perceptions!about!this!category!of!
crime.!The!research!findings!concluded!that!(1)!the!public!supported!criminal!
sanctions!for!white-collar!criminals;!(2)!the!public!believed!that!white-collar!
crimes!have!greater!moral!and!economic!costs!than!blue-collar!crimes;!and!(3)!
the!sample!did!not!define!white-collar!crimes!as!violent.!This!study!also!
discovered!that!perceptions!of!the!seriousness!of!white-collar!crime!increased!
more!than!any!other!offense!type!in!the!1970’s!and!physically!harmful!offenses!
were!viewed!as!the!most!serious!forms!of!white-collar!crime.!This!highlights!the!
public’s!propensity!to!view!crimes!that!pose!immediate!threats!to!the!physical!
health!of!a!person!as!more!serious!than!those,!which!do!not!pose!any!immediate!
threats!to!physical!safety.!This!raises!an!important!issue,!in!that!if!the!public!
bases!the!severity!of!crimes!on!what!physical!harm!they!do!to!people,!then!the!
vast!majority!of!white-collar!offences!(which!are!non-violent)!are!likely!to!be!
ignored!or!not!viewed!to!be!as!serious.!Similar!research!has!revealed!that!the!
U.S.!public’s!perceptions!on!the!seriousness!of!white-collar!crimes!have!
increased!over!time.!This!was!found!in!a!study!done!with!268!students,!which!
concluded!that!the!public’s!perceptions!were!based!upon!harm!and!
wrongfulness!(Rosenmerkel,!2001).!!
!
A!study!conducted!by!Holtfreter!et!al.!(2008)!on!the!public!perceptions!of!white-
collar!crime!and!punishment!highlights!that,!citizens!are!more!likely!to!support!
punitive!sanctions!for!blue-collar!offenders!than!white-collar!offenders.!This!
study!also!highlights!the!role!that!recent!scandals!have!played!in!raising!public!
awareness!of!white-collar!crime,!but!whether!public!attitudes!have!been!altered!
is!yet!to!be!determined.!This!study!used!a!sample!of!402!telephone!survey!
!
17!
participants!and!examined!citizen!perceptions!of!white-collar!and!blue-collar!
(street)!crime,!as!well!as!attitudes!regarding!apprehension!and!punishment!
(Holtfreter!et!al.,!2008).!This!study!indicates!that!one!consequence!associated!
with!perceived!risk!of!victimisation!is!punitive!attitudes!and!increased!support!
for!harsher!punishments!(Ouimet!&!Coule,!1991;!Sims,!2003;!Sprott!&!Doob,!
1997).!Furthermore,!recent!scandals!in!major!corporations,!which!have!received!
a!lot!of!press!coverage,!have!raised!public!awareness!of!the!economic,!societal!
and!personal!harms!that!are!caused!by!white-collar!crimes!(Holtfreter,!Van!
Slyke,!&!Blomberg,!2005;!Krantz,!2003).!!
!
Respondents!were!adults!from!402!randomly!selected!households!and!were!all!
over!18!years!of!age.!Respondents!were!questioned!about!their!perceptions!of!
financially!motivated!white-collar!and!blue-!collar!crimes!and!punishment.!The!
white-collar!crime!used!in!this!study!was!fraud!and!the!blue-collar!crime,!
robbery.!Respondents!were!asked!the!following!questions!in!the!order!listed:!
“Who!do!you!think!is!more!likely!to!be!caught!by!the!authorities,!someone!who!
commits!a!street!crime!like!robbery!and!steals!$1,000,!or!someone!who!commits!
a!white-collar!crime!like!fraud!and!steals!$1,000?”!Respondents!were!then!asked!
about!apprehension:!“If!they!are!both!caught!and!convicted,!who!do!you!think!
will!likely!receive!the!more!severe!punishment,!the!person!who!commits!the!
fraud,!the!person!who!commits!the!robbery,!or!an!equal!likelihood!of!
apprehension?”!Then!about!normative!perceptions:!“Who!do!you!think!should!be!
punished!more!severely,!the!person!who!commits!the!robbery,!the!person!who!
commits!the!fraud,!or!they!should!receive!equal!punishment?”!And!finally!about!
support!for!resource!distribution:!“Do!you!believe!the!government!should!devote!
!
18!
more!resources!to!combating!street!crimes!like!robbery,!white-collar!crimes!like!
fraud,!or!an!equal!amount!of!resources!for!white-collar!and!street!crimes?”!!
The!results!of!this!study!highlight!that!62.9%!of!respondents!felt!that!violent!
blue-collar!offenders!were!more!likely!to!be!apprehended!and!more!likely!to!
receive!harsher!penalties!(66.4%);!65.4%!of!respondent’s!felt!that!violent!(blue-
collar)!criminals!should!receive!more!severe!punishments!than!white-collar!
criminals.!Additionally,!just!less!than!two-thirds!of!this!sample!felt!that!the!
government!should!commit!equal!or!more!resources!toward!white-collar!crime!
control.!Therefore,!while!the!public!perceives!violent!blue-collar!criminals!as!
more!likely!to!be!apprehended!and!receive!harsher!penalties,!as!well!as!being!
more!deserving!of!harsher!penalties,!this!did!not!translate!to!support!for!higher!
resources!to!be!devoted!to!combatting!violent!blue-collar!crime!relative!to!
white-collar!crime!(Holtfreter!et!al.,!2008).!In!summary,!the!American!public!
desires!an!increase!in!formal!and!social!control!of!fraud,!in!spite!of!the!greater!
perceived!seriousness!of!violent!blue-collar!crimes.!Whilst!the!discovering!that!
the!public!perceives!violent!blue-collar!crime!to!be!more!serious!than!white!
collar!crime!could!be!interpreted!simply!as!additional!support!for!an!increase!in!
government!resource!allocation!to!fight!violent!crime,!this!study!suggest!an!
alternative!interpretation!of!crime!seriousness!perceptions.!In!particular,!the!
public’s!perceived!seriousness!of!blue-collar!crime!is!not!extreme!to!the!extent!of!
warranting!government!neglect!of!white-collar!crime.!Rather,!unmeasured!
variables!such!as!the!recent!scandals,!which!may!have!influenced!public!
perceptions,!must!be!considered!in!light!of!these!results!(Krantz,!2003;!
O’Donnell!&!Willing,!2003).!This!study!concludes!that!the!results!of!this!study!
!
19!
suggest!that!the!public!might!simply!be!misguided.!This!is!because!those!who!
perceived!a!high!risk!of!violent!blue-collar!crime!victimisation!also!felt!that!
white-collar!criminals!are!more!frequently!and!harshly!penalised!than!violent!
blue-collar!offenders.!In!reality!this!is!quite!the!contrary,!as!a!significant!body!of!
sentencing!research!which!shows!that!white-collar!criminals!are!nor!punished!as!
harshly!as!violent!or!even!non-violent!blue-collar!offenders.!This!suggests!that!
perceived!risk!of!violent!blue-collar!crime!victimisation,!and!perhaps!personal!
experience!of!this!type!of!crime!can!incite!an!erroneous!perception!that!
sentencing!works!in!a!way!entirely!opposite!to!that!verified!by!empirical!
evidence.!!
Some!aspects!of!this!study!contradicts!earlier!research!that!emphasises!the!
American!public’s!ambivalence!towards!white-collar!crime,!by!highlighting!that!
there!is!support!for!harsher!punishment!for!white-collar!criminals.!However!due!
to!the!lack!of!research!in!this!area,!it!is!not!possible!to!determine!the!full!extent!
of!this!on!the!American!population!as!a!whole,!considering!the!small!sample!of!
402!which!this!study!used.!The!responses!from!respondents!which!were!
opposite!to!those!upheld!by!empirical!literature!also!suggests!that!public!
education!campaigns!can!be!a!solution!to!dispel!the!myths!about!white-collar!
criminals!bring!treated!more!severely!than!blue-collar!criminals.!The!study!also!
suggests!that!future!research!should!also!consider!whether!knowledge!of!
respondents’!actual!victimisation!experiences,!as!well!as!exposure!to!media!
coverage!of!white-collar!crime,!influence!public!opinion!and!support!for!more!
resource!allocation!(Chiricos,!Padgett,!&!Gertz!2000;!Rebovich!&!Kane,!2002).!It!
is!crucially!important!for!the!public!to!be!educated!well!on!this!issue!as!they!
!
20!
have!a!very!influential!role!in!shaping!penal!policies!as!politicians!often!justify!
their!resource!allocation!towards!crime!on!public!opinion!(Holtfreter!et!al.,!
2008).!
"
Cesare"Beccaria"(On"Crimes"and"Punishment)"
Cesare!Beccaria!(1963)!argued!that!in!order!for!the!principle!of!deterrence!to!
work!effectively,!punishments!must!be!swift,!severe!and!certain.!This!was!on!the!
basis!that!criminals!were!rational!actors!who!weighed!the!pros!and!cons!of!
committing!an!offence!before!doing!so.!As!previously!stated,!one!of!the!key!
arguments!of!this!research!is!that!white-collar!criminals!are!rational!actors!who!
weigh!the!financial!benefits!of!breaching!the!law!against!the!consequences!
before!committing!an!offence.!As!a!result!of!the!punishments!given!to!powerful!
white-collar!criminals!being!found!lacking!in!swiftness!(due!to!bail!&!
adjudication),!lacking!in!severity!(white-collar!criminals!generally!get!lower!
sentences!than!blue-collar!criminals)!and!lacking!in!certainty!(some!get!away!
without!being!convicted!by!paying!fines!etc.)!they!are!much!less!likely!to!be!
deterred!by!the!‘costs’!of!committing!the!crime.!Furthermore!a!key!argument!
that!this!research!poses!is!that,!due!to!the!greater!consequences!of!white-collar!
crime,!there!should!not!just!be!an!aim!for!policy!to!make!punishments!for!white-
collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!equal,!but!to!make!punishment!for!white-collar!
crimes!more!severe!than!those!imposed!on!blue-collar!criminals,!and!more!
certain.!This!is!supported!by!the!following!summary!by!Beccaria!(1963):!Crimes!
of!every!kind!should!be!less!frequent,!in!proportion!to!the!evil!they!produce!to!
society!...!If!an!equal!punishment!be!ordained!for!two!crimes!that!injure!society!
!
21!
in!different!degrees,!there!is!nothing!to!deter!men!from!committing!the!greater!
as!often!as!it!is!attended!with!greater!advantage.”!
!
Disparities"in"How"Crimes"are"Penalised""
When!penalising!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes,!there!are!two!important!
factors!to!consider!before!sentencing:!The!total!cost!of!the!damages!and!ripple!
effects!that!will!affect!other!people!and!how!likely!the!victims!are!to!recover!
from!the!crime!(Martinez,!2014).!!
!
According!to!a!study!by!Martinez!(2014),!titled:!“Unpunished!Criminals:!The!
Social!Acceptability!of!White!Collar!Crimes!in!America”,!several!case!studies!of!
white-collar!crimes,!and!their!punishments!were!highlighted!and!compared!with!
cases!of!blue-collar!crimes.!These!case!studies!include!scandals!such!as:!The!
Freddie!Mac!Scandal!in!2003,!the!American!International!Group!(AIG)!Scandal!in!
2005,!and!the!Lehman!Brothers!Scandal!in!2008.!!
!
Freddie!Mac!is!a!company!that!works!with!mortgage!lenders!to!secure!people!
homes!with!good!finance!rates,!and!is!a!federally!sponsored!mortgaging!
organisation.!In!2003!the!company!execs!intentionally!misstated!the!profits!of!
the!company!in!the!financial!books,!forging!approximately!$5!billion!in!revenue-!
another!type!of!white-collar!crime!in!the!category!of!fraud.!The!culprits!
responsible!for!this!scandal!were:!The!company!president!David!Glenn;!the!vice!
presidents!Robert!dean!and!Nazir!Dossani;!the!CEO!Leland!Brendsel!and!the!ex-
CFO!Vaughn!Clarke.!Although!Freddie!Mac!had!intentionally!misstated!$5!billion!
in!revenue,!they!were!only!required!to!pay!back!$125!million!in!fines!and!the!
!
22!
only!further!action!taken!in!the!sacking!of!company!execs,!Brendsel,!Clarke!and!
Glen.!(Accounting!Degree!Review,!2014;!ABC!News,!2014).!This!money!was!
distributed!among!the!shareholders!who!were!victims!of!this!scam.!This!is!
especially!catastrophic!because!Freddie!Mac!was!a!corporation!created!in!1970!
by!the!U.S!government!with!the!aim!benefit!the!public!by!making!mortgages!
more!affordable,!and!to!heighten!market!productivity!by!fabricating!bundles!of!
property!loans!and!selling!them!to!investors!around!the!globe!(ABC!News,!2014).!
Such!scandals!may!create!public!distrust!in!government!financial!institutions!and!
can!have!a!detrimental!effect!on!the!economy!as!a!whole.!!
!
Another!case!was!a!scandal!that!took!place!in!2005!where!the!American!
International!Group!(AIG)-!an!international!insurance!company,!falsified!
company!record!books!to!display!loans!that!were!taken!out!as!company!
earnings.!This!felony!was!committed!by!the!CEO,!Hank!Greenberg!who!also!
directed!several!clients!to!insurers!that!AIG!held!payoff!agreements!with,!and!
was!further!accused!of!causing!stock!traders!inflate!the!stock!value!of!AIG!shares.!
The!cost!of!these!crimes!totalled!over!$3.9!billion!(Accounting!Degree!Review,!
2014).!Although!the!company!CEO,!Greenberg!was!sacked,!he!did!not!receive!any!
criminal!sanctions!for!his!offenses,!which!is!in!stark!contrast!from!the!inevitable!
result,!which!would!have!resulted!form!a!blue-collar!crime!of!similar!magnitude.!!
Moreover,!in!2008,!soon!after!AIG!reportedly!sustained!the!largest!ever!losses!by!
a!corporation!in!the!sum!of!$61.7!billion,!tax!payers!were!made!to!suffer!further!
because!the!company!execs!withdrew!the!taxpayer!bail!out!money!to!pay!
themselves!$165!million!in!bonuses!(SEC,!2006).!This!further!highlights!the!
!
23!
disparity!between!white-collar!and!blue-collar!criminals!in!the!severity!of!
punishments!imposed!on!them!for!the!crimes!they!commit.!!
!
Another!company!in!the!U.S.!that!filed!for!bankruptcy!in!2008!after!a!series!of!
attempts!to!fraudulently!hide!company!losses!were!international!financial!
corporation,!the!Lehman!Brothers!(Accounting!Degree!Review,!2014).!The!
company!execs!and!external!company!auditors,!Ernst!&!Young,!allegedly!sold!
faulty!assests!to!banks!in!the!Cayman!Islands!under!the!false!pretence!that!they!
would!eventually!buy!back!these!assets.!They!essentially!tried!to!make!
themselves!look!like!they!were!$50!billion!wealthier,!concealing!the!reality!of!
them!having!$50!billion!in!bad!assets!by!hiding!$50!billion!in!loans!and!sales.!As!
a!result!of!this!scandal,!the!company!which!was!once!the!most!admired!securities!
firm!in!the!U.S.!(according!to!Fortune!Magazine),!became!the!company!with!the!
record!highest!bankruptcy!in!U.S.!history!(Mamudi,!2008).!The!Lehman!Brothers!
were!not!even!prosecuted!by!the!SFC,!and!in!spite!of!the!company’s!utter!failure!
as!a!result,!those!responsible!were!never!held!accountable!for!their!crimes!and!
never!prosecuted!in!a!court!of!law.!!
!
There!will!now!be!an!analysis!of!two!blue-collar!crimes!and!the!judicial!
responses!towards!these!crimes.!The!two!cases,!which!will!be!explored,!are:!The!
Grand!Michigan!Home!Invasion!Case!in!2013,!and!the!Wayne!County,!Michigan!
mislabelled!Products!Case!also!in!2013.!
!
In!Grand!Rapids,!Michigan!(Alpine!Township)!2!blue-collar!criminals!were!
indicted!with!first-degree!home!invasion!for!breaking!into!several!homes,!and!
!
24!
stealing!items!from!them!on!bicycle.!Both!the!offenders,!Branon!Cook!and!
Damoney!Hammok!were!sentenced!to!a!minimum!of!2-20!years!in!prison!for!
their!offenses.!Also,!because!Hammok!had!committed!a!similar!offence!
previously,!it!is!possible!that!he!may!have!been!sentenced!to!a!minimum!of!3!
years!(Deiters,!2014).!Although!the!total!cost!of!these!crimes!are!undisclosed,!the!
overall!damage!to!the!economy!as!a!result!of!these!crimes!are!more!than!likely!to!
be!far!less!than!the!billions!of!dollars!worth!of!damage!caused!by!white-collar!
crimes.!This!case!sheds!light!on!how!the!criminal!justice!system!rigorously!
punishes!those!who!commit!blue-collar!crimes.!When!compared!with!the!above!
cases!of!white-collar!crime,!a!trend!of!favouritism!toward!the!economically!
powerful!emerges!(Martinez,!2014).!
!
The!other!crime!that!took!place!in!Wayne!County,!Michigan,!was!where!four!
suspects!were!indicted!with!deliberately!selling!an!incorrectly!labelled!product!
and!possessing!a!measuring!device!used!to!sell!an!illegitimate!and!unsealed!
product.!All!four!of!these!men!were!accused!of!misleadingly!labelling!oil!and!
transmission!fluid!and!selling!inconsistent!and!inexact!amounts!of!the!fluid!to!
purchasing!customers.!The!four!suspects!responsible!were:!Moussa!Kaddouh,!Joe!
Kdouh,!Ali!Kaddouh!and!Ayman!Faraj.!They!were!indicted!with!several!felonies!
and!were!also!charged!for!misconduct!for!these!crimes,!punishable!by!up!to!five!
years!imprisonment!and!$20,000!in!fines!(Burns,!2014).!It!is!important!to!note!
that!in!such!a!case,!these!suspects!will!likely!have!a!spoilt!reputation!as!a!result!
of!being!found!guilty!and!they!will!have!to!work!immensely!to!regain!public!
trust,!if!they!are!to!ever!re-establish!their!business.!Their!punishment!were!not!
just!in!prison!time!and!fines,!but!also!in!losing!their!ability!to!recover!in!the!
!
25!
industry,!which!they!invested!effort!into.!Applying!similar!types!of!punishments,!
which!are!swift,!severe!and!certain!to!powerful!white-collar!criminals!in!order!to!
produce!similar!consequences,!may!have!a!deterring!effect!and!reduce!white-
collar!offenses!in!the!USA!(Beccaria,!1963).!
!
Summary"
It!is!evident,!based!on!these!examples!that!there!is!a!disparity!in!the!way!judicial!
systems!in!the!U.S.!penalise!white-collar!and!blue-collar!criminals.!White-collar!
criminals!are!usually!required!to!pay!fines!for!their!crimes,!which!are!not!in!
proportion!to!the!crimes!they!committed!and!money!they!stole.!Blue-collar!
criminals!are!far!more!likely!to!be!sentenced!to!lengthy!prison!sentences!for!
financially!motivated!crimes!because!they!pose!more!immediate,!direct!and!
visible!threats!to!local!communities,!however!these!crimes!cost!less!to!society!
financially!overall.!
!
Gaps"in"Research"
The!gaps!in!researching!white-collar!crime!are!due!to!the!‘invisibility’!and!
complexity!of!these!crimes.!The!low!rates!of!prosecution!means!that!there!are!
fewer!and!more!unrepresentative!cases!to!study,!and!the!absence!of!direct!
victimisation!renders!victim!surveys!irrelevant.!Criminology!also!rarely!ventures!
into!the!academic!disciplines!that!white-collar!crimes!are!connected!to!such!as!
business!studies!and!economics!(Slapper!&!Tombs,!1999).!This!makes!it!difficult!
to!research!and!study!this!phenomenon!with!enough!depth!needed!to!develop!
effective!interventions!to!tackle!this!issue.!Blue-collar!criminals!are!easier!to!
reach!for!interviews,!surveys,!and!the!straightforward!nature!of!the!crimes!
!
26!
committed!makes!it!much!easier!to!research-!hence!the!substantially!greater!
level!of!research!done!in!this!area.!!
!
The!proposed!solution!this!research!suggests!will!help!address!the!gaps!in!
research!about!white-collar!crime,!is!an!increase!in!collaboration!between!
criminological,!sociological!and!business!researchers!to!enable!for!more!
comprehensive!and!reliable!literature!on!this!complex!topic!to!be!produced.!
Sociologists,!criminologists!and!business!experts!can!benefit!greatly!from!each!
other’s!expertise!by!working!in!collaboration!while!undertaking!
Interdisciplinary!research.!Interdisciplinary!research!can!be!defined!as,!faculty!
from!different!areas!of!expertise!working!together!on!the!same!project!(Mallon!&!
Burnton,!2005).!Research!conducted!by!the!National!Academy!of!Science!(2004)!
suggests!that!a!key!benefit!of!interdisciplinary!research!is!that!it!provides!a!
format!for!conversations!and!connections!that!lead!to!new!knowledge.!This!
alternative!method!of!research!can!open!new!doors!for!further!interdisciplinary!
research!to!be!undertaken,!thus!helping!practitioners!in!the!criminological,!
sociological!and!business!domains!to!raise!awareness!and!tackle!white-collar!
offending!using!collaborative!methods.!!
"
Analysis"of"Key"Themes"
Key"Themes"on"the"U.S."Public’s"Perception"
Within!this!research,!the!key!themes!that!have!emerged!around!the!public!
perception!of!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!are,!media!bias,!lack!of!
education!about!white-collar!crime,!its!seriousness!and!how!it!is!penalised.!!
!
!
27!
Regarding!media!bias!towards!blue-collar!crimes,!and!a!lack!of!education!about!
white-collar!crime,!a!study!by!Martinez!(2014)!offers!a!perspective,!which!
suggests!that!the!white-collar!criminals!themselves!are!to!blame!for!this.!He!
argues!that,!high-level!executives!have!the!resources!to!prevent!the!public!from!
having!a!full!understanding!of!the!white-collar!crimes!they!commit.!They!are!
able!to!do!this!because!they!in!large!part!have!control!over!media!corporations!
and!act!as!their!sponsors!(Martinez,!2014).!This,!he!argues,!causes!stories!to!be!
told!in!a!favourable!manner!as!media!corporations!avoid!focusing!on!white-
collar!crime!stories,!which!may!offend!their!sponsors.!Shah!(2009)!gives!an!
insightful!view!about!how!this!happens:!
!
“In!some!places!major!multinational!corporations!own!media!stations!and!
outlets.!Often,!many!media!institutions!survive!on!advertising!fees,!which!can!
lead!to!the!media!outlet!being!influenced!by!various!corporate!interests.!Other!
times,!the!ownership!interests!may!affect!what!is!and!is!not!covered.!Stories!can!
end!up!being!biased!or!omitted!so!as!not!to!offend!advertisers!or!owners.!The!
ability!for!citizens!to!make!informed!decisions!is!crucial!for!a!free!and!
functioning!democracy!but!now!becomes!threatened!by!such!concentration!in!
ownership.!(Shah,!2009).”!!
This!argument!by!Martinez!(2014)!concludes!that!if!CEO’s!and!executives!of!
corporations!control!what!the!American!people!see!on!the!news,!then!it!is!
possible!for!them!to!hide!or!at!least!deeply!mask!the!crimes!committed!by!the!
powerful!elites!in!the!corporate!world.!Looking!at!this!from!a!statistical!
viewpoint,!90%!of!the!media!is!owned!by!only!6!major!corporations,!which!are:!
!
28!
GE,!News-Corp,!Disney,!Viacome,!Time!Warner,!and!CBS!(Lutz,!2012).!
Furthermore,!232!media!executives!control!the!information!diet!of!277!million!
Americans-!this!equates!to!1!media!exec!per!850,000!subscribers!(Lutz,!2012,!
p.2).!This!evidences!the!great!level!of!control!that!corporations!can!have!on!the!
public’s!perception!of!crime!as!well!as!other!major!issues.!
Research!by!criminologists!on!the!effects!of!the!media!on!public!penal!sentiment!
has!also!suggested!that!the!media!play!a!crucial!role!in!shaping!popular!
punitvism!(Beckett,!1997;!Garland,!2001).!This!posits!an!explanation!for!why!the!
respondents!in!the!study!by!Holtfreter!et!al.!(2008)!felt!that!violent!blue-collar!
crimes!should!receive!harsher!sentences.!The!over-emphasis!on!reporting!blue-
collar!crimes!may!have!a!psychological!effect!on!the!public’s!attitudes!towards!
the!immediate!dangers!of!blue-collar!crime.!This!in!turn!may!have!a!ripple!effect!
and!cause!policy!makers!to!implement!hasher!penal!policy!towards!blue-collar!
offenders!as!politicians!often!claim!that!punitive!policies!followed!shifts!in!public!
opinion!(Beckett,!1997).!!!!
Key"Themes"on"Disparities"in"Punishment"
Another!key!theme!from!this!research!is!the!disparity!in!the!punishment!of!
white-collar!and!blue-collar!offenders!highlighted!by!the!case!studies!
comparison!of!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!and!their!punishments,!by!
Martinez!(2014).!This!study!highlighted!that!based!on!these!case!studies!and!
observations!of!the!criminal!justice!system,!it!can!be!posited!that!blue-collar!
criminals!are!locked!up!in!jail!every!day,!for!crimes!that!are!ultimately!less!
harmful!than!those!committed!by!white-collar!criminals.!For!example,!in!Florida!
the!average!cost!per!blue-collar!crime!is!$35,!while!the!average!cost!per!white-
!
29!
collar!crime!is!$621,000!(Eitzen,1986).!This!suggests!that!ultimately,!white-
collar!crimes!affect!more!people!in!several!ways!than!blue-collar!crime!ever!will.!
This!study!then!concludes!that,!the!U.S.!criminal!justice!system!fails!in!their!
attempts!to!tackle!crime,!while!making!it!seem!like!poor!people!are!to!blame!
(Reiman!&!Leighton,!2013),!and!that!white-!collar!criminals!escape!
condemnation!and!prosecution,!by!putting!the!spotlight!on!blue-collar!criminals!
and!blaming!them!for!the!criminal!misconducts!in!the!American!society.!
!
This!is!of!major!concern!because!it!is!certainly!arguable!that!white-collar!
criminals!are!more!culpable!for!their!actions!as!they!are!arguably!based!on!
opportunity!and!rational!choice.!Blue-collar!criminals!actions!in!this!case!can!be!
argued!to!be!as!a!result!of!strain!(Murphy!&!Robinson,!2008).!Murphy!and!
Robinson!(2008)!argue!that!the!crimes!committed!by!the!powerful!are!crimes!of!
opportunity!and!structural!advantage,!and!are!not!committed!out!of!a!place!of!
desperation.!They!also!argue!that!crimes!committed!by!powerless!are!crimes!of!
necessity!based!on!Merton’s!Strain!Theory.!Such!theories!posit!that!blue-collar!
criminals!perhaps!needed!the!money!they!stole!through!a!crime!such!as!robbery!
because!they!are!desperate!for!resources,!whilst!white-collar!criminals!engage!in!
activities!such!as!fraud!purely!for!greed-sake!to!secure!personal!or!business!
advantage.!Based!on!this,!it!can!be!argued!that!in!some!cases,!blue-collar!
criminals!deserve!less!harsh!sentences!than!white-collar!criminals!for!offenses!
committed!in!similar!categories!for!a!number!of!reasons:!(1)!The!total!amount!of!
damage!is!probably!quite!low,!(2)!the!level!of!need!may!be!a!fairly!higher,!(3)!
because!blue-collar!criminals!must!be!somewhat!desperate!to!risk!committing!a!
dangerous!lower-level!crime!(Martinez,!2014).!Furthermore!white-collar!crime!
!
30!
has!been!labelled!as!more!socially!acceptable!than!blue-collar!crimes!by!
lawmakers!(Reiman!&!Leighton,!2013).!Based!on!this!ideology,!the!powerful!elite!
who!have!access!to!or!are!the!lawmakers!that!create!laws,!which!are!more!
punitive!towards!the!crimes!of!the!powerless.!In!this!way,!blue-collar!crimes!are!
labelled!as!most!dangerous!and!problematic.!Reiman!goes!on!further!to!say,!“acts!
labelled!crimes,!instead!of!being!all!dangerous!acts,!were!predominantly!acts!of!
the!poor!in!society”!(Reiman!&!Leighton,!2013)!exposing!the!ideology!of!the!
Conflict!Theory!that!the!rich!and!powerful!make!decisions!and!laws!for!their!own!
interests!against!the!powerless.!The!powerless!are!then!targeted!by!law!
enforcement!for!their!crimes!and!the!powerful!go!scot-free.!The!overarching!
argument!here!is!that,!based!on!the!greater!culpability!of!white-collar!criminals!
and!their!rational!motives,!harsher!sentences!that!are!swift,!severe!and!certain!
should!be!given!to!those!found!guilty!in!order!to!deter!them!from!committing!
such!opportunistic!crimes!(Beccaria,!1963).!!
!
Key"themes"on"Gaps"in"Research"
The!final!key!theme!is!the!gaps!in!the!research!of!white-collar!crime.!Slapper!and!
Tombs!(1999)!highlight!that;!the!reason!for!this!gap!in!research!is!because!the!
powerful!elite!are!far!more!able!to!resist!research!than!the!powerless.!CEO’s!and!
managers!may!also!find!it!much!easier!to!obfuscate!and!hide!the!truth!from!
researchers!(Punch,!1996).!This!is!illustrate!by!Punch!(1996)!who!asks:!‘do!you!
approach!senior!executives!of!major!corporations!and!say!you!are!interested!in!
bribery,!corruption,!industrial!espionage,!fraud!and!manipulation!of!accounts!to!
hoodwink!external!auditors,!and!would!be!quite!willing!to!undertake!research!
for!them!within!their!companies?’!He!goes!further!to!say:!“even!if!one!could!get!
!
31!
inside,!then!the!practical!dilemmas!of!researching!these!issues!may!be!almost!
intractable!because!managerial!‘deviants’!are!likely!to!be!clever,!conspiratorial,!
and!secretive,!their!activities!will!be!concealed!behind!walls!or!locked!doors!and!
they!will!not!only!be!unwilling!to!co-operate…!but!will!simply!deny!that!any!
nefarious!practices!take!place!at!all.”!A!further!explanation!for!the!gaps!in!
researching!white-collar!crime!are!that,!many!white-collar!crimes!involve!
branching!out!of!the!criminological!field!of!study!and!entering!other!disciplines!
such!as,!criminal!law,!sociology!or!psychology!and!into!diverse!fields!such!as!
financial!management,!industrial!relations,!management!and!business!studies,!
the!environment,!food!policy,!environmental!health!and!consumer!protection,!
disaster!and!crisis!management!or!studies!of!social!movements!(Slapper!&!
Tombs,!1999).!To!overcome!this,!this!research!posits!that!criminological!
researchers!will!need!to!collaborate!with!researchers!in!the!most!relevant!fields!
such!as!business!and!sociology!in!order!to!produce!research,!which!can!help!
academics,!lawmakers,!practitioners!and!the!public!to!better!understand!and!
tackle!this!phenomenon.!
"
Conclusion""
This!research!has!analysed!the!area!of!public!perception!of!white-crime!in!
America.!The!themes!that!have!emerged!are!a!lack!of!awareness!and!education!
regarding!white-collar!crime.!This!has!in!turn!caused!the!public!to!remain!
ambivalent!towards!white-collar!crime,!whilst!causing!them!to!have!a!higher!
penal!sentiment!towards!blue-collar!offenders.!The!role!the!media!plays!in!
informing!the!public!about!crime!and!shaping!public!perceptions!and!penal!
sentiment!towards!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes!has!also!been!analysed.!
!
32!
This!research!found!that!the!media!often!reports!blue-collar!crimes!more!
because!they!boost!newscast!ratings!due!to!public!attraction,!and!that!the!
influence!powerful!business!execs!and!managers!have!over!media!outlets!cause!
there!to!be!less!emphasis!on!reporting!white-collar!crimes!and!more!emphasis!
on!reporting!blue-collar!crimes.!As!a!result,!the!public!may!develop!biased!views!
about!crime!due!to!the!frequency!of!reports!and!be!fearful!about!the!immediate!
perceived!harm!that!blue-collar!crimes!can!inflict.!This!causes!there!to!be!
popular!penal!sentiment!towards!blue-collar!crimes,!causing!politicians!to!
devote!more!resources!toward!fighting!these!crimes.!To!address!this!issue,!this!
research!suggests!that!the!public!need!to!be!educated!more!about!white-collar!
crime,!and!its!consequences!so!that!they!can!develop!their!understanding!and!
form!a!more!informed!view!of!such!crimes.!
!
The!case!studies!used!in!this!research!has!also!highlighted!that!there!are!
disparities!in!punishment!of!white-collar!and!blue-collar!crimes.!This!is!seen!in!
that!the!white-collar!offenses,!which!amassed!financial!losses!in!the!billions!due!
to!fraud,!were!given!fines!that!were!not!even!in!proportion!to!the!crimes!they!
committed,!whilst!blue-collar!offenders!who!committed!similar!crimes!at!a!lower!
level,!such!as!robbery,!received!lengthy!prison!sentences!as!well!as!fines.!This!
research!concludes!that!in!order!to!address!the!problem!of!white-collar!crime!in!
America,!policy!must!be!developed!with!the!aim!to!dish!out!harsher!sentences!
for!white-collar!offenses!that!are!swift,!severe!and!certain!(Beccaria,!1963),!to!
deter!such!crimes!as!the!criminals!who!commit!them!do!so!rationally!whilst!
blue-collar!criminals!commit!such!crimes!more!out!of!desperation!and!strain!
(Merton,!1957).!
!
33!
!
This!research!has!also!suggests!that!for!criminological!researchers!to!address!the!
gaps!in!the!literature!about!white-collar!crime,!they!will!need!to!collaborate!with!
researchers!outside!the!field!of!criminology!in!the!disciplines!of!business!and!
sociology!to!undertake!research!that!produces!richer,!holistic!data.!This!will!
subsequently!help!to!better!inform!policy!makers,!practitioners!and!the!public!
about!white-collar!crime!and!help!in!the!efforts!to!tackle!this!national!financial!
epidemic!which!has!significantly!harmful!effects!on!the!socioeconomic!
livelihoods!of!millions!of!Americans.!
!
The!limitations!to!this!research!are!mostly!based!on!the!lack!of!research!done!on!
this!subject!area.!There!were!also!limitations!as!highlighted!in!previous!sections!
about!the!barriers!towards!collecting!primary!data!about!white-collar!crime;!this!
resulted!in!this!research!using!secondary!data!about!cases,!which!occurred!over!
the!past!decade!or!more.!This!is!a!limitation!mainly!because!collecting!more!
recent!primary!data!would!have!allowed!for!this!research!to!have!more!
empirical!validity!and!reliability.!A!lack!of!time!also!played!a!part!in!not!using!
primary!data!as!several!months!or!even!a!year!would!have!needed!to!be!aside!to!
gather!enough!primary!data!on!such!a!complex!subject!area.!As!highlighted!there!
are!also!limitations!to!this!in!that!corporations!may!not!be!open!to!be!researched!
on!such!a!subject!area,!which!they!may!be!threatened!by.!
!
Future!research!on!white-collar!crime!and!the!public!perceptions!of!this!
phenomenon!in!all!the!continents!of!the!world!should!be!done,!in!order!to!gauge!
the!full!extent!of!the!cost!to!the!global!economy.!Research!on!white-collar!crime!
!
34!
in!Europe,!Africa,!South!America,!Australia,!Asia,!should!be!done!in!like!manner!
and!this!research!should!search!for!disparities!in!punishment!between!white-
collar!and!blue-collar!crimes.!This!should!raise!global!awareness!of!this!issue!and!
help!to!make!it!a!global!priority!so!that!the!world!economy!can!be!allowed!
flourish!to!its!full!potential!by!tackling!the!fraudulent!activities!that!white-collar!
criminals!engage!in.!Further!research!should!also!be!done!on!white-collar!crimes!
that!may!pose!damage!to!the!health!of!employees!and!the!well!being!of!the!
public,!such!as!work!place!safety!negligence,!unnecessary!hospital!surgeries,!and!
consumer!price!fixing.!Research!on!white-collar!crimes!outside!of!the!business!
domain!can!also!be!done!in!areas!such!as,!health,!education,!social!services,!
religious!spheres,!arts!&!entertainment!and!the!political!sphere.!
!
To!conclude,!nations!that!prioritise!prosperity!over!ethics!and!values!always!risk!
having!high!levels!of!white-collar!crime.!When!the!national/political!priority!is!
financial!prosperity!and!the!moral!prosperity!of!the!nation!is!neglected,!those!
who!suffer!are!the!public!and!future!generations.!This!is!why!it!can!be!argued!
that!white-collar!crime!is!so!prominent!in!the!nation!with!the!world’s!largest!
economy.!With!great!economic!power,!comes!great!moral!and!social!
responsibility.!If!the!latter!two!are!neglected,!that!economic!power!which!can!be!
a!great!force!for!good!can!be!the!undoing!of!the!socioeconomic!welfare!of!a!
nation.!This!is!summarised!in!the!popular!and!often!quoted!Bible!verse:!“For!the!
love!of!money!is!the!root!of!all!evil:!which!while!some!coveted!after,!they!have!
erred!from!the!faith,!and!pierced!themselves!through!with!many!sorrows.”!(1!
Timothy!6:10King!James!Version!(KJV)).!
!
!
35!
References"
ABC!News!(2014).!"Freddie!Mac!pays!$50M!to!settle!fraud!charges."!Retrieved!
from:!<http://abcnews.go.com>.!
Accounting!Degree!Review!(2014).!"The!10!Worst!Corporate!Accounting!
Scandals!of!All!Time.!Retrieved!January!24,2014,!retrieved!from:!
<http://www.accounting-degree.org/scanda1s>.!
Beccaria,!C.!(1963).!On!crimes!and!punishments!(introduction!by!H.!Paolucci,!
Trans.).!New!York:!Macmillan.!(Original!work!published!1764).!
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Motives such as greed and materialism could lead to catastrophes, if people in high positions are influenced by them. It is therefore very important to strive for values such as righteousness, transparency and an ethical mind.
Book
For nearly 40 years, this classic text has taken the issue of economic inequality seriously and asked: Why are our prisons filled with the poor? Why aren't the tools of the criminal justice system being used to protect Americans from predatory business practices and to punish well-off people who cause widespread harm? The Rich Get Richer shows readers that much that goes on in the criminal justice system violates citizens' sense of basic fairness. It presents extensive evidence from mainstream data that the criminal justice system does not function in the way it says it does nor in the way that readers believe it should. The authors develop a theoretical perspective from which readers might understand these failures and evaluate them morally-and they to do it in a short and relatively inexpensive text written in plain language. New to this edition: Presents recent data comparing the harms due to criminal activity with the harms of dangerous-but not criminal-corporate actions Presents new data on recent crime rate declines, which are paired with data on how public safety is not prioritized by the U.S. government Updates statistics on crime, victimization, wealth and discrimination, plus coverage of the increasing role of criminal justice fines and fees in generating revenue for government Updates on the costs to society of white-collar crime Updates and deepened analysis of why fundamental reforms are not undertaken Streamlined and condensed prose for greater clarity.
Chapter
Edwin H. Sutherland (1883 – 1950) hat sein Konzept zur Weiße-Kragen-Kriminalität erstmals 1939 als Präsident der American Sociological Association vorgestellt. Ihm kommt das Verdienst zu, den kriminologischen Blick von der Kriminalität der Unterschichten auf die der „respektierten“ Leute erweitert zu haben. Sein Kriminalitätsbegriff schließt nicht nur Straftaten im legalistischen Sinne ein, sondern auch verurteilbare und solche, die zivilrechtliche Reaktionen statt strafrechtlicher nach sich ziehen. Da nicht nur die Strafverfolgung selektiv eher auf Normbrüche der unteren Schichten gerichtet ist, sondern auch schon auf der Ebene der Gesetzgebung sozialschädliche Handlungen der Mittelund Oberschicht bessere Chancen haben, gar nicht erst in das Strafrecht aufgenommen zu werden, ist diese Erweiterung zentral für Sutherlands Ansatz, die Kriminalität der oberen Klasse angemessen zu erfassen.