Understanding White Collar Crime

Understanding White Collar Crime

Understanding White Collar Crime

Understanding White Collar Crime


• What is the extent and impact of white collar crime?

• How can white collar crime be explained?

• How is white collar crime controlled?

This comprehensive overview of white collar crime begins by introducing the concept, looking at its definition, its identification with class and status, and its development within criminology. The problems of estimating the vast extent of white collar and corporate crime are explored, and some of its major forms are outlined, including fraud, corruption, employment, consumer and environmental crime.

Hazel Croall looks at the kinds of offenders who are convicted for white collar offences and at patterns of victimization which involve class, gender and age. She examines the various ways in which white collar crime has been explained and analysed, including individual, organizational and social structural perspectives. The issues surrounding regulation and punishment are explored, focusing on the contrast between white collar and other crimes, and on alternative approaches to its control.

This new book is a revised, updated and readily accessible replacement for the author's highly successful White Collar Crime (Open UP, 1992). It includes expanded coverage of corporate crime, and provides an essential text for undergraduate courses in criminology, sociology and law.


Hazel Croall's book is the latest contribution to the Open University Press Crime and Justice series, which provides relatively short but challenging introductory textbooks on important areas of debate within the fields of criminology, criminal justice and penology. All the books are written by experienced lecturers and researchers, and the aim is to give undergraduates and graduates both a solid grounding in the relevant area and a taste to explore it further. Although aimed primarily at students new to the field, and written as far as possible in plain language, the books are not oversimplified. On the contrary, the authors set out to 'stretch' readers and to encourage them to approach criminological knowledge and theory in a critical and questioning frame of mind.

Croall's focus is upon 'white collar' crime. As she points out, this is far from a clear category of crime — indeed, some authors prefer not to use the term at all, finding it ambiguous and outdated. However, she argues that alternatives are no less problematic and that it is the term best understood by both academics and the public to describe what she is primarily interested in: as she defines it, crime involving an 'abuse of a legitimate occupational role which is regulated by law'. This includes both occupational and organizational (or corporate) crime, that is, crimes by employees (particularly those with medium or high status) as well as crimes by companies or other organizations. While her primary focus is on British research, she emphasizes that such crime has to be seen in a global context and illustrates her arguments with examples from all over the world.

Croall examines a number of distinct categories under the overall umbrella of white collar crime, including theft at work, fraud, corruption, consumer crime and environmental crime. She looks at how such crimes come to light (or, more often, do not) and at the kinds of offenders involved. She examines alternative explanations for these kinds of behaviour, ranging from individual greed to the nature of capitalism itself. She also (unusually in this subject area) takes a close look at the victims of white collar crime . . .

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