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

By Gilbert Geis | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

I

A sense of injustice, provoked by examples of inequities in the legal treatment of the powerful and the weak, has often led to imprecations against the crimes and sins of members of the upper classes--persons in government, business, and the professions. Often, those in power and those with professional training and social position are held to higher standards than their less fortunate brethren, on the ground that their background demands added social responsibility. It is these ideas, coupled with the view that no behavior is beyond scrutiny and appraisal, that have provided much of the impetus for the study of acts now grouped as "white-collar crime," "occupational crime," and "economic crime."

It is an intriguing enterprise to attempt to locate in different historical periods the sources of the most powerful forms of social criticism directed against the entrenched classes. Nay-saying prophets, as well as disenchanted members of the ruling classes and free-swinging muckrakers, have at various times led crusades against those they believed were deviating from acceptable standards of conduct.

In the United States social censure and caricature have long been

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