White-Collar Criminal: The Offender in Business and the Professions

By Gilbert Geis | Go to book overview

4
CRIME OF CORPORATIONS

Edwin H. Sutherland

About twenty years ago I began to study violations of law by businessmen and have continued the study intermittently to the present day. This study was begun for the purpose of improving the general explanations of criminal behavior. The theories of crime which were then current and which are still current emphasized social and personal pathologies as the causes of crime. The social pathologies included, especially, poverty and the social conditions related to poverty, such as poor housing, lack of organized recreational facilities, the ignorance of parents, and family disorganization. The personal pathology emphasized in the earlier period was feeblemindedness; the early theory asserted that feeblemindedness is inherited and is the cause of both poverty and crime. At about the time I started the study of business crimes, the personal pathology which was used to explain crime was shifting from defective intelligence to defective emotions, as represented by such concepts as frustration, the inferiority complex, and the Oedipus complex.

____________________
Reprinted from Albert Cohen, Alfred Lindesmith, and Karl Schuessler (eds.), The Sutherland Papers ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956), pp. 78-96.

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