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

By Gilbert Geis | Go to book overview

III COMMERCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL WHITE-COLLAR CRIME

Black-market dealings in meat, illegal dispensing of prescriptions, ambulance chasing, fee-splitting and unnecessary surgery, embezzlement, tax evasion, violation of rent-control ceilings, and imposition of illegal working conditions upon household help constitute the offenses dealt with in the following section. Looked at together, they have little in common, except that their perpetrators rarely regard themselves as criminals or as persons deserving severe social censure and criminal or administrative sanctions.

It is this element of self-definition on the part of white-collar offenders that triggers the notable interchange of remarks between Frank E. Hartung, professor of sociology at Wayne State University, and Ernest W. Burgess ( 1886-1966), at the time a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, following Hartung's presentation of his findings regarding violations of wartime regulations in the wholesale meat industry in Detroit. Burgess argues that a crucial distinction exists between offenses which arouse strong public disapproval and those kinds of acts which are regarded by most persons with only mild disfavor, if indeed they are viewed with any disfavor at all. It is worth observing how Burgess uses Edward A. Ross' writings, pre-

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