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This article directs the ‘visual turn’ in criminology to corporate crime, a topic that has been understudied by cultural criminologists. A recent trend of corporate crime movies suggests that film can compellingly critique economic crime and unethical business cultures. This article studies how law enforcement agencies, particularly competition authorities, have connected with this trend by using film in their communicative strategy. This article introduces the emerging genre of anti-cartel enforcement thrillers: regulator-produced realistic docudramas in which fictional cartels are exposed and punished. These films’ narratives about cartel enforcement are reconstructed by studying how the films portray cartels, perpetrators and their motives, and the regulator. An analysis of four films produced in four jurisdictions demonstrates that the films deter only to the extent that the local legal and political-economic context allows: the British film reflects that country’s neoliberal ‘pro-business’ climate, while the Swedish film depicts businesses as socially responsible and the Dutch film is pragmatic rather than moralistic. Only the Australian film is explicitly punitive in its narrative as well as its imaginary, and exemplifies the persuasive potential of film in enforcement.
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... Competition authorities are known to frame leniency as triggering 'a race to the authorities' between firms that struggle with the risks of their involvement in cartel conduct, distrust towards their 'partners in crime' and remorse (Stucke, 2015). Competition authorities actively present this frame within their regulatory communication (Van Erp, 2018). Through information on their websites, (social) media campaigns and movie clips, competition authorities portray leniency as an attractive choice for cartelists that are considering their options. ...
Leniency offers corporations the possibility to come clean about their involvement in cartel conduct (for example, price-fixing, bid-rigging) in exchange for immunity or reduction of financial penalties. In Europe, nearly 60 percent of detected cartels are discovered through leniency. This makes leniency the most applied detection tool for uncovering cartel conduct violations. What are the considerations in applying for leniency or refraining from doing so? How do those considerations relate to private law enforcement through civil liability regarding business cartels? These questions are discussed based on semi-structured interviews ( n = 34) with cartelists, competition lawyers and in-house legal counsel to study theoretical assumptions underpinning leniency arrangements in the Netherlands. This study investigates four scenarios on the use of leniency suggested in the literature and finds empirical support for only two. Strategic use of leniency and false confessions occur in the Netherlands, but to a lesser extent than the existing literature suggests. Moreover, various disincentives, and especially the rise of private enforcement, make leniency an unattractive and uncertain option for cartelists.
This article implements a crime script analysis to understand the procedural dynamics of corporate benchmark-rigging in the financial services industry. In 2012 several global banks were implicated in the manipulation of various trading benchmarks, portraying the industry as affected by serious, pervasive and 'organised' corporate crimes. Yet their dynamics have been relatively little studied by criminologists. To address this gap, we analyse official enforcement documentation, supplemented with data from interviews with key informants in the UK financial markets. We analyse the range of interactions between the relevant actors, their actions and the resources essential to the manipulations, and deconstruct the benchmark manipulations into four scenes (calculated positioning and identification of co-collaborators-recruitment-(ephemeral) manipulation-recompense and solicitation). The analysis reveals that regulatory and organisational systems play a paradoxical role of both 'capable guardians' and 'facilitators of misconduct'; this has implications for criminological theory.
Public agencies are the objects of a large share of the daily news and devote substantial resources to media management and monitoring. This paper analyses how public agencies have adapted their internal structures and processes in order to meet the demands from their media environment. To this end, an analytical framework for the analysis of organisational mediatisation – the adaptation of internal structures and processes to external media demands – is developed. This is the first framework available for empirical analyses of organisational mediatisation. Its use is then demonstrated in a comparative analysis of the mediatisation of public agencies in Australia and the Netherlands; countries with contrasting political and media systems. An explorative, multimethods study describes how Australian agencies go to greater lengths in accommodating their media environment – they fight the media beast – whereas Dutch agencies are more hesitant; they are fumbling with the beast.
This paper considers the ways in which the rise of new media might challenge commonplace criminological assumptions about the crime-media interface. Established debates around crime and media have long been based upon a fairly clear demarcation between production and consumption, between object and audience-the media generates and transmits representations of crime, and audiences engage with them. However, one of the most noticeable changes occurring in the wake of the development of new media is the proliferation of self-organised production by 'ordinary people'-everything ranging from self-authored web pages and 'blogs', to self-produced video created using hand-held camcorders, camera-phones and 'webcams'. Today we see the spectacle of people performing acts of crime and deviance in order to record them, send them and upload them to the Internet. This kind of 'will to representation' may be seen in itself as a new kind of causal inducement to law- and rule-breaking behaviour. It may be that, in the new media age, the terms of criminological questioning need to be sometimes reversed: instead of asking whether 'media' instigates crime or fear of crime, we must ask how the very possibility of mediating oneself to an audience through self-representation might be bound up with the genesis of criminal behaviour.
The last few years have seen a remarkable visual turn in criminology and this article explores some of the implications of
this renewed interest in the power of images. It begins by setting out influential sociological understandings of aesthetics,
before turning to the distinctive ethical questions posed by visual representations of harm, suffering and violence that feature
so prominently in these multi-mediated times. These arguments are then developed in relation to the documentary photography
tradition, as it explicitly confronts the relationships between aesthetics, ethics and justice, in ways that a visually attuned
criminology has much to learn from, not least since contemporary practitioners have become increasingly aware that they have
certain social responsibilities towards the subjects they photograph, while remaining committed to anthropological exploration,
moral commitment and political reform.
Criminalizing the harms of the powerful has considerable appeal for those who desire a more tractable, ethical and sustainable business sector. Yet, attempts to both establish criminal offences and to enforce them once they are enacted often face perennial challenges. These challenges are a product of the ambiguities—economic, moral and legal—associated with the conduct sought to be criminalized, in this case cartels, and with the character of the criminal law itself. Following Aubert, we argue that exploring these ambiguities reveals critical social and economic shifts in society. Further, these shifts pose significant challenges to the legitimacy of incumbent governments. The paper makes these arguments drawing on the recent reform criminalizing cartel conduct in Australia, teasing apart the multiple ambiguities involved and, in particular, how they map the shift in the Australian Labor Party’s policies away from welfare providing security to citizens to an embrace of market competition.
Enforcement against corporate offenses is increasingly carried out by specialized regulatory agencies. These often use publicity as a regulatory tool, in the expectation that disclosure of sanctions will invoke the threat of reputational damage and broadcasts a moral message about desired behavior. This article investigates how media represent administrative offenses in the Dutch financial market, in terms of punitiveness for offenders and in terms of the message about the wrongfulness and harm of offenses. Media coverage of administrative fines is messy in several senses. First, adverse publicity is unpredictable and disproportionally affects small firms in comparison with large, professional firms. In addition, it is also messy in terms of its contribution to the prevention of corporate misbehavior. Media do not unequivocally disapprove of financial market offenses. Rather than clarifying the demarcation line between right and wrong, media describe financial market behavior as a grey zone where differences of opinion can exist over whether certain behavior constitutes an offense. More than a publicity sanction or moral message, media was found to frame offenses by retail banks and capital market firms in terms of the power struggle between firms and the regulatory authority.
While criminologists focus a considerable amount of attention on issues relating to crime and the media, little consideration has been given to the news media's coverage of environmental crimes. Consequently, we examine the amount of news coverage devoted to corporate environmental crime in Hillsborough County, Florida for the years of 1987-97. Specifically, we investigate the frequency and content of reports of accidental chemical releases (ACRs) in the Tampa Tribune-the County's largest newspaper. We find that of the 878 chemical spills reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Emergency Response and Notification System (ERNS), nine made the news. We also discover that news reports appear to reflect public opinion concerning the nature of corporate crime.
The collapse of Enron and revelations about the widespread financial wrongdoing of other corporations prompted congressional hearings in 2002. The hearings culminated in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, legislation that regulates the accounting industry and imposes prison sentences on executives who lie on their corporations’ financial statements. There was extensive media coverage of Enron and the other high-profile corporations and of the congressional hearings into their wrongdoing. In this paper, we analyze the media representations of these matters. We focus on media coverage of the political language that was offered during the hearings, on the media’s own characterizations of these events, and on how the coverage represented corporate wrongdoing and its control. Our analysis is in three parts. First, we track the ‘bad apples’ language that shifted blame from the corporations onto individuals. Second, we consider the angry denunciations from Congress that resemble status degradation ceremonies. Third, we analyze the hearings as representations of the scandal story using a critical dramaturgy. We argue that the hearings became a spectacle that deflected critique from the economy and shored up the legitimacy of the government and the economy. The usage of critical dramaturgy helps us to make sense of criminological research about the public’s sensibilities of corporate crime.
As an emergent orientation in sociology, criminology, and criminal justice, cultural criminology explores the convergence of cultural and criminal pro-cesses in contemporary social life. Drawing on perspectives from cultural studies, postmodern theory, critical theory, and interactionist sociology, and on ethnographic methodologies and media/textual analysis, this orientation highlights issues of image, meaning, and representation in the interplay of crime and crime control. Specifically, cultural criminology investigates the stylized frameworks and experiential dynamics of illicit subcultures; the symbolic criminalization of popular culture forms; and the mediated con-struction of crime and crime control issues. In addition, emerging areas of in-quiry within cultural criminology include the development of situated media and situated audiences for crime; the media and culture of policing; the links between crime, crime control, and cultural space; and the collectively em-bodied emotions that shape the meaning of crime.
This chapter considers images of crime and law, and what we, through the lens of cultural criminology, might learn of the nature and experiences of crime represented through the image. The images considered in this chapter are particular: Australian Aboriginal art. These artworks function on two levels, as an expression of Aboriginal law and, more extensively, as a critique of the imposed colonial law. Both in traditional and contemporary society, Aboriginal art is a powerful medium for expressing Aboriginal law and culture.
The successful enforcement of health and safety regulation is reliant upon the ability of regulatory agencies to demonstrate the legitimacy of the system of regulatory controls. While ‘big cases’ are central to this process, there are also significant legitimatory implications associated with ‘minor’ cases, including media-reported tales of pettiness and heavy-handedness in the interpretation and enforcement of the law. The popular media regularly report stories of ‘regulatory unreasonableness’, and they can pass quickly into mainstream public knowledge. A story's appeal becomes more important than its factual veracity; they are a form of ‘regulatory myth’. This paper discusses the implications of regulatory myths for health and safety regulators, and analyses their challenges for regulators, paying particular attention to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which has made concerted efforts to address regulatory myths attaching to its activities. It will be shown that such stories constitute sustained normative challenges to the legitimacy of the regulator, and political challenges to the burgeoning regulatory state, because they reflect some of the key concerns of late-modern society.
Until the latter part of the 1960s, the American public was inattentive to the problem of crime in the upperworld. Due to
a confluence of events (e.g., Watergate affair, Vietnam War, civil rights movement), concern about this lawlessness rose precipitously
in the 1970s. Public attention toward and willingness to punish white-collar crime has persisted into the twenty-first century.
We argue, however, that due to a series of recent scandals (e.g., Enron, WorldCom), public opinion about upperworld offenders
has been transformed qualitatively. High-profile offenders are now seen not as respected community citizens but as “bad guys”
whose crimes reflect inordinate greed and a disturbing lack of concern for victims. This typification is conducive to the
prosecution of white-collar offenders but may have the unanticipated consequence of deflecting attention away from structural
sources of corporate illegal enterprises.
In the past ten years or so, several documentaries on international criminal justice have been produced, shown at film festivals, and used for advocacy and educational purposes. On some occasions, artists, humanitarian organizations, and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have worked closely together in the production of documentary films. Documentaries have thus become important tools for education and the spread of imageries of international criminal justice. So far, however, international legal scholars have largely shied away from researching cinematic representations of their field. In this article, I seek to remedy this by focusing on a family of four recent influential documentaries related to the ICC: The Reckoning , The Court , Prosecutor , and Watchers of the Sky . All four use similar modes of representation, narration and promotion and basically communicate the same message about the Court. My article critically analyzes how such artistic interventions have helped create specific images, stories, and sentiments.
With numerous recent incidents in which law-enforcement officers played a role in the deaths of citizens, there is a renewed focus on cops and their actions. Part of that discussion is related to the nation’s preconceived notions of cops and where those ideas might originate. Popular culture contributes to those images; this study explores one source of those images: film. More specifically, it investigates the image of law enforcement on the silver screen from 1984 through 2014. With a sample of 34 films and more than 200 cop characters, this study finds a mixed general depiction of law enforcement in movies but a positive depiction of individual cop characters. The prevalent descriptor of those characters was good, hard-working, and competent law-enforcement officers. This exploratory study informs broader discussions about the images of cops found in popular culture.
There has been little in-depth research on media representations of corporate crime in either media studies or critical discourse analysis (CDA). Taking one small step to address this situation, this paper assesses the unfolding press representations of one instance where corporate negligence and greed led to the death of 31 people - the Paddington rail crash in London in 1999. At first the event is covered as a 'disaster' through its associated language of 'accidents' and 'heroes'. Later, issues of corporate responsibility are raised even in the popular press, but there are a number of obstacles to the language of crime and criminality being used.
The relationship between crime and the mass media often has been described by researchers as paradoxical. Perhaps the most striking of the proposed paradoxes are the dual contentions that the media can serve as both a cause of crime and a cure for crime. This paper posits that the recent financial scandals in the United States—which began in 2001, when Enron tipped over the first domino in a stunning fission of corporate failures—are a reflection of these contradictory notions of cause and cure.
With the prevalence and accessibility of film today, we must wonder how film affects its audience. In particular, how does film influence an audience’s perceptions of the government? Regardless of the content, research demonstrates that film has the power to shape perceptions of its moviegoers on a range of subjects. In this study, two recent films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, were chosen as case studies to explore how Hollywood portrays the intelligence community in film and shapes opinions about the government more broadly. This research found that about 25% of viewers of the two films changed their opinion about the government after watching one of the movies. Additionally, many of those changes are reflected in an improvement in the sentiments about the government and its institutions. This exploratory research provokes interesting discussions about the ability of film to influence the perceptions of an audience.
In July 2009, Australia introduced criminal offences and jail for collusive conduct (price fixing, output restriction, market
allocation and bid rigging) in markets. The substance of the justification for criminalization of cartel conduct is ‘blindly’
economic. It does not spring from a sense of moral or political outrage at collusion in the market. Rather, it is justified
on the basis of effective regulatory technique, the need to deter economically harmful behaviour. This paper examines the
rationality of anti-cartel law from the point of view of the ‘legal consciousness’ of 25 business people who have faced enforcement
action for cartel conduct. Their justifications for their own behaviour in light of the law tell us about how they believe
the law can be legitimated. This is compared with policy and scholarly rationales for criminal anti-cartel law. The paper
finds that, among business people who have been made subject to the anti-cartel law, there are similar differences and ambiguities
about the rationale for criminal anti-cartel law, and the very meaning of acting economically, as there are among scholars
and policy elites. This pinpoints one place of instability in the legitimacy of economic rationalities of regulation and governance
This paper aims to provide a reflective – and selective – review of key developments in media and crime research and theory from the vantage point of the new century. Writing primarily as a criminologist, though with a background in sociological theory and research, information studies, and cultural analysis, I will seek to identify some of the turning points and questions that emerge from what is a recently rejuvenated and expanding field. For the last decade media/crime research has been able to draw on an exciting array of multi-disciplinary sources of inspiration in a way that has not happened before, and suggests new – intellectually complex – challenges for future work.
Most analysts of the causes of the contemporary credit crunch have concluded that the supervising agencies failed in their duties. The same is true for studies of several major fraud scandals, including the Madoff affair and the Dutch construction fraud. The remedy seems immediately obvious: more and better regulation and supervision. However, this line of reasoning seems somewhat simplistic by ignoring the question of how illegal activities can remain hidden for many years from supervising agencies, victims, and bystanders. This research article argues that the problem also lies in the successful concealment of illegal activities by the perpetrators and in the presence of silence in their social environment.
The cases analyzed in this article suggest that financial misconduct also could be controlled by breaking the conspiracies of silence. The strengthening of supervision is unlikely to be effective without simultaneous efforts to encourage people to speak out and to give them incentives to want to know and to tell the truth.
Research on whistle-blowing in the Norwegian public sector shows remarkable findings compared with international research. A very high proportion of employees blow the whistle when they experience misconduct, and the majority of these people receive positive reactions. Furthermore, a majority of the whistle-blowers report that the conduct that led them to blow the whistle improved. These positive findings are different from those reported in international research displaying that whistle-blowing is difficult, often results in retaliation and is rarely effective. This article seeks to shed light on the positive Norwegian experiences, first by exploring how power resources can help us understand the extent and types of whistle-blowing, the consequences for the whistle-blower and the effectiveness of the practice. Second, the article asks whether a Norwegian model of labour relations promotes a communicative ‘culture’ where employees can freely voice their opinions and critical remarks, and report misconduct. The findings show that power resources to a little degree can explain whistle-blowing activity and its results. It is plausible to assume that the strong emphasis on collective arrangements and laws reduces the impact of an individual employee’s power resources by making the reporting process less arbitrary. Furthermore, it could be argued that the Norwegian model establishes structures for a communication culture that facilitates whistle-blowing.
This article shows the limitations to the optimal deterrence-inspired cartel enforcement policy currently used by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. This article employs both quantitative and qualitative survey evidence of cartel practitioners to shed light upon the realities of US cartel enforcement policy. The empirical evidence provided by the practitioner surveys challenges the traditional assumptions behind the success of the DOJ’s cartel program. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that firms regularly game the leniency program to punish their competitors. For various reasons, firms and the DOJ have strong incentives to settle rather than to litigate cases in which the legality of cartel conduct may be in doubt. The surveys also expose limitations to the optimal deterrence framework for firms and individuals regarding incentives and behavior. These findings suggest the need for an enforcement focus on sub-units within the firm as well as various processes to change behavior that would improve enforcement and deterrence. Finally, the surveys suggest certain structural limitations in organizational behavior within firms that have prevented antitrust compliance programs from becoming embedded in a way that would reduce cartel activity. Additionally, this article provides an analysis of media coverage of cartel enforcement from 1990-2009. The analysis suggests that successful enforcement has not created sufficient awareness of cartel behavior among the public. Relative to other types of financial crimes, such as accounting fraud, the public seems unaware or uninterested in cartel activity. The conclusion summarizes the article’s findings and outlines potential future steps in cartel research.
This article explores Crime Stoppers’ use of CCTV images as a node of a surveillant assemblage via analysis of a sample of Crime Stoppers advertisements deploying CCTV images supplemented by interviews and other qualitative procedures. Advertisements using images are becoming more prevalent and rely on complex textual narratives and the CCTV image format to construct crime for public consumption to generate ‘tips’. The advertisements capture a narrow range of ‘street crime’ to the benefit of private business and to the neglect of pervasive and serious conduct affecting the less powerful. The convergence of Crime Stoppers and CCTV surveillance is found to have unanticipated and ironic consequences regarding deterrence and identification, to befit a form of ‘counter-law’, and to demonstrate potential to harm individuals and visible minorities. Theoretical implications of this analysis for understanding assumptions about the relation between image and the Truth of crime, governance, and surveillance are discussed.
While the novelty of Enron and WorldCom as corporate scandals should not be overstated, these events are distinguished by the sheer volume of media coverage that followed in their wake. Drawing from an analysis of over 300 newspaper and magazine articles, this article argues that while this media coverage varies in its diagnosis of the scandals, it is rooted in a common set of taken-for-granted assumptions as to the nature, form, and operation of financial markets. These various points of complementarity suggest that the coverage of the scandals is less significant as an exercise in collective sense-making than as a re-investment in a particular market discourse, a form of financial intelligibility germane to the scandals themselves and instructive vis-à-vis the future study of corporate and white-collar crime.
Some scholars blame the low salience of corporate deviance on a lack of media coverage. Others claim that negative coverage might shame corporations into compliance with regulations. We examine how the news frame used to report corporate deviance affects issues of salience and regulation. We create a conceptual model of crime news frames and use it to analyze newspaper coverage of two instances of alleged corporate deviance: claims about the safety of GM trucks and an NBC Dateline program about the trucks. The coverage was shaped by the standard crime news frame, with its features of attribution and individualization of responsibility, maintenance of moral boundaries, and resolution. The reliance on this frame reinforced dominant ideological definitions of corporate deviance that perpetuate its low salience and limit the use of the media as a mechanism for inducing corporate compliance.
This article aims at giving crime-film research a stronger sense of purpose by asking: How do crime films relate to criminology? Using the example of recent films about sex crimes, I argue that crime films should be conceptualized as an aspect of popular criminology, and popular criminology as an aspect of criminology itself. If we define criminology as the study of crime and criminals, it becomes clear that film is one of the primary sources through which people get their ideas about the nature of crime. Some of those ideas echo academic criminology, while others bring to bear ethical, philosophical and psychological perspectives beyond the scope of academic research. By recognizing that popular criminology is integral to criminology, we can invigorate the study of crime films—and criminology itself.
Independent regulatory agencies, faced with multiple and often conflicting demands from regulatory stakeholders, yet operating at arm’s length from government, may be under considerable pressure to demonstrate the legitimacy of their decisions and the regime they administer. This article considers how regulators employ presentational strategies to establish and maintain their legitimacy by documenting the findings of a comparative study of two independent agencies responsible for the regulation of trade practices in their respective jurisdictions: the UK Office of Fair Trading and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Its findings demonstrate that presentational activities may be an important means by which regulators give concrete expression to their obligations of transparency, promote the effectiveness of the regime they administer, and publicly demonstrate how their work serves the community. The mass media is relied upon by both agencies as the primary vehicle through which they seek to communicate to their targeted audiences and the public at large, actively seeking to manage the ambivalence that infuses the regulatory enterprise.
Media coverage of law enforcement has the power to educate and influence people’s beliefs, values and reactions to a given behaviour. Reporting of cartel cases has the potential to expose the nature and effects of practices such as price fixing, helping to bridge the gap between how cartels are treated in law and how they are popularly perceived. If the imposition of high fines on firms and jail terms on individuals is to succeed in the long run in securing compliance, strong public support is of central importance. It lends legitimacy to these laws and strengthens government commitment to enforcement efforts, in terms of maintaining sufficient investigative resources and countering lobbying for soft enforcement. Media dissemination of the nature and effects of cartel practices can create a social stigma towards price fixing and encourage a culture of compliance within the business community. Even the criminalising of an activity neither ensures that activity is taken more seriously, nor that the existence of a criminal offence is communicated to the wider public or business community. The UK’s cartel offence is one of over 3,000 new criminal offences introduced in the UK since 1997. The tendency for 'over-criminalisation' has come about because the threat of criminal sanction is used as a quick fix in curbing behaviour seen as harmful or undesirable. It is a way for government to be seen to be doing something about a problem. Many of the young criminal offences in the UK concern seemingly trivial or obscure behaviour, raising the criticism that the criminal law has lost its bite. It may also raise the danger of a defendant genuinely having no idea (and no reasonable way of knowing) that their behaviour would constitute an offence – although this would be no defence in law. This makes the need to raise the profile of cartel cases all the more pressing, especially as we are principally concerned with securing compliance and desistance. The main way in which media reports can enhance cartel enforcement is through the dissemination of information on the infringements themselves. Survey work in the UK construction industry was commissioned by the OFT before and after fines for bid rigging were imposed in 2009. Of the construction firms who had heard of the OFT decision four months later, 80% cited media reports as their main source of information. This appears to have significantly exceeded traditional industry channels such as trade associations. Indeed, only 18% were aware of recently adopted codes of conduct in relation to competition, even though 30% claimed to be members of trade bodies who recently adopted such codes. Communicating the harm of cartels is particularly important and is considered by many to constitute a central underpinning of the decision to legitimately sanction or criminalise a given activity. The problem, as noted by Steven Box is that, "The public understands more easily what it means for an old lady to have £5 snatched from her purse than to grasp the financial significance of corporate crime." Alleged corporate criminals, such as Ian Norris or the NatWest Three, do not fit our preconceptions of what criminals look like (young, usually wearing a hoody?), not helped by the media being invited into the homes of the NatWest Three to interview them around their children. Consequently the reporting of such cases typically gets sidelined by a more populist issue or is turned on its head entirely. Thus the Ian Norris case became more about the long and unfair reach of US law enforcement, with the Confederation of British Industry supporting a protest march of company directors to parliament. In relation to the NatWest Three (not a competition law case), Levi notes how the press even made comparisons between the three defendants and gross miscarriages of justice such as the, "Birmingham Six," and, "Guilford Four." In other cases of white-collar crime the media coverage becomes obsessed with the defendant’s fall from grace, turning the reporting of wrongdoing into a form of celebrity scandal. Examples of this include the reporting of Nick Leason’s £830 million fraud at Bearings Bank and more recently Bernar Madoff’s US$65 billion fraud. So what is the problem? Crucially, the media focus on the victim and the harm when reporting illegal acts, both of which are difficult to identify in cases of price fixing. It is for this reason that the media are disproportionately preoccupied by crimes of a violent, sexual or interpersonal nature, especially incidents which are apparently random. Readers and viewers immediately understand the harm involved in such cases, and feel in immediate fear of it. The typical perpetrator here also fits their preconceptions of what a wrongdoer should look like, rather than the faceless corporation or the smartly dressed businessman who perhaps looks a little too much like a, "normal," person. In most cartel cases the harm is remote and dispersed. Price fixing of an upstream product can cause enormous harm to the economy as a whole, as the extra cost is passed down the chain of production, but is likely to be dispersed among a large number of final consumers, each of whom may have paid only a little extra for the given product. This means there is no critical mass of harm (compare with an individual victim who has been mugged). While competition authorities and academics have sought to estimate the harm caused by cartels, this exercise always involves a set of assumptions as to the counterfactual; how prices would have behaved had a cartel not formed. This is compounded by the tendency for cartelists to admit guilt but deny the infringement had any effect on price (not least to protect themselves from private enforcement). Even if we were to reliably estimate cartel harm, the smoke-filled room provides journalists with a poor alternative to the sex, violence and graphic imagery of conventional crime reporting. Even where a cartel case is effectively reported, the objectionable nature of cartel practices can be lost in media coverage, where this is inconsistent with the statements and behaviour of politicians. When supermarkets and dairy firms were investigated by the OFT for price-fixing in 2003, the firms pointed out that they were responding to pressure from parts of the UK government to raise the price of milk and other products, in order to help farmers. The reporting of cartels as objectionable acts is also at odds with other policy areas such as trade. For example, 'export cartels' are generally tolerated, as are collusive agreements between governments; most notably the oil cartel, OPEC. For some, these contradictions reinforce a view that practices such as price fixing are simply part of the system; an inevitable consequence of a free market in which the pursuit of higher profits is central to everything. All this leaves competition authorities with the unenviable task of maintaining an effective level of enforcement, while at the same time having to promote their activities through mainstream media channels. Lessons from the US (where cartel enforcement only really took off in the late 1980s) suggest that media coverage can be maximised through careful case selection; at first targeting cartels directly affecting final consumers and those involving bid-rigging in public procurement. Early cases which particularly struck a chord with the US media included the bid-rigging of contracts to supply milk to schoolchildren and equipment to the military.
Crimes of deception are treated by the mass media as extensions of 'infotainment', such as individual and corporate celebrities in trouble; 'normal' people turning to fraud because of drugs, gambling or sex; readily visualizable and often short fraud events (like 'identity fraud' or 'card skimming') connected to 'organized crime' or 'terrorism'; or long-term concealment of fraud that shows the 'Establishment' to be incompetent or business people/politicians to be hypocrites. These populist themes, prosecutions and regulatory actions, active non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and lobbyists, media technology and libel risks influence what business activities get labelled as 'fraud' or 'corruption'. However, the growing specialist business and technology press and electronic media report worldwide less sensational cases involving reputational damage, business prospects and technological vulnerability, and these affect business people (if not the general public) in ways that may be neglected by traditional media and crime studies.
Simple deterrence will often fail to produce compliance commitment because it does not directly address business perceptions of the morality of regulated behavior. Responsive regulation, by contrast, seeks to build moral commitment to compliance with the law. This article shows that a regulator can overcome the deterrence trap to improve compliance commitment with the skillful use of responsive regulatory techniques that “leverage” the deterrence impact of its enforcement strategies with moral judgments. But this leads it into the “compliance trap.” The compliance trap occurs where there is a lack of political support for the moral seriousness of the law it must enforce, such as is the case with cartel enforcement in Australia. In these circumstances, business offenders are likely to interpret the moral leveraging of responsive regulation as unfair or stigmatizing, and business perceptions of regulator unfairness are likely to have a negative influence on long-term compliance with the law. Moreover, big businesses that perceive regulatory enforcement as illegitimate are also likely to actively lobby for the political emasculation of the regulator. In these circumstances, most regulators are likely to avoid conflict by taking the easy option of enforcing the law “softly,” and therefore ineffectively.
This essay aims to contribute to an unobtrusive criminology of organisation. In particular its focus is on organisational imagineries of ethical business practice. The essay thus is about organisational imageries and imagination, as well as about the connections between those and what might roughly be called organisational justice. This essay tries to find out whether the imaginery of specific organisations holds come clues as to the boundaries (of imagination) within which textual or practical forms of organisational justice may take shape. This essay is part of a broader, though fairly recent research agenda that deals with the role and impact of imagination in organisational life.
The past 30 years have seen vast changes in our attitudes toward crime. More and more of us live in gated communities; prison populations have skyrocketed; and issues such as racial profiling, community policing, and "zero-tolerance" policies dominate the headlines. How is it that our response to crime and our sense of criminal justice has come to be so dramatically reconfigured? David Garland charts the changes in crime and criminal justice in America and Britain over the past twenty-five years, showing how they have been shaped by two underlying social forces: the distinctive social organization of late modernity and the neoconservative politics that came to dominate the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1980s. Garland explains how the new policies of crime and punishment, welfare and securityâand the changing class, race, and gender relations that underpin themâare linked to the fundamental problems of governing contemporary societies, as states, corporations, and private citizens grapple with a volatile economy and a culture that combines expanded personal freedom with relaxed social controls. It is the risky, unfixed character of modern life that underlies our accelerating concern with control and crime control in particular. It is not just crime that has changed; society has changed as well, and this transformation has reshaped criminological thought, public policy, and the cultural meaning of crime and criminals. David Garland's The Culture of Control offers a brilliant guide to this process and its still-reverberating consequences.
Education before enforcement? Key insights from Australian cartel research
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Film review: The Big Short
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