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An introduction to the issue of mentality of organized crime

Notes Introduction The concept of white-collar crime has been with us now for half a century. In the intervening years there was a discernible move from the study of white-collar crime as an individual phenomenon to the study of white-collar crime as an organization practice. This shift in focus, though not anticipated by Sutherland, was nonetheless made possible by his original conceptualization of white-collar criminality. How this conceptual transformation occurred is the interest of this author and the focus of the paper.

This paper is divided into three parts. The section starts by observing the conceptual and theoretical difficulties in making a paradigmatic shift from the studying of white-collar criminals to the studying of organizational criminals. It then attempts to show that the concept of organizational crime was embedded within the Sutherland's original white-collar crime theoretical framework.

The section ends by outlining the major pioneer works which gave life to this incipient movement in the re-orientation of an entrenched idea. The Discovery of White Collar Crime 1. The discovery of white-collar crime Sutherland introduced the concept of "white-collar crime" in 1939 in his presidential address at the American Sociological meeting.

Georgios A Antonopoulos and Georgios Papanicolaou

Before, crimes were considered mainly as a street level phenomenon. After, the rich and poor alike could be implicated. More importantly, he wanted to bring to justice the elite criminals who until then were able to avoid the reach of the law with impunity because of their lofty social status, high political office and or powerful economic connections. The conceptual root Sutherland was not the first to be concerned with the deviance of the rich, powerful and privileged.

It appears that Edward A. Ross was the first to report upon the sins of " The Criminoid" in his now classical article in The Atlantic Monthly in 1907: Often, indeed, they are guilty in the eyes of the law; but since they are not culpable in the eyes of the public and in their own eyes, their spiritual attitude is not that of the criminal.

Albert Morris was the first an introduction to the issue of mentality of organized crime discuss the abuses of the "criminals of the upperworld" in the form of a book. In his treatise on Criminology 1935 he defined "criminals of the upper-class" as: In a required textbook, Charles R. Many "Napoleons" of trade are well named, for they are cold blooded robbers and murderers, utterly indifferent to the inevitable misery which they must know will follow their contrivances and deals.

Occasionally eminent legal ability is employed to plan raids upon the public in ways which will evade the penalties of the criminal code. Contributions and Impacts 2. Sutherland's contributions Sutherland distinguished himself from those who preceded him in one important respect. He made the study of white-collar crime not only respectable but feasible. He stated the problem clearly, forcefully and succintly. He spearheaded the systematic study of the phenomenon. He articulated a distinctive theoretical concept that of white-collar criminalityprovided for an operational definition that of administrative, civil and criminal violationsattempted at a causal theory that of differential association and supported his thesis with empirical data legal and administrative violations of 70 companies.

His major thesis is best summed up in the following propositions: White-collar criminality differs from lower-class criminality principally in an implementation of the criminal law, which segregates white-collar criminals administratively from other criminals. The theories of the criminologists that crime is due to poverty, psychopathic and sociopathic conditions are invalid because, first, they are derived from samples which are grossly biased with respect to socio-economic status; second, they do not apply to white-collar criminals; and third, they do not even explain the criminality of the lower class, since the factors are not related to a general process characteristic of all criminality.

A theory of criminal behavior which will explain both white-collar criminality and lower-class criminality is needed. A hypothesis of this nature is suggested in terms of differential association and social disorganization. He provided personal leadership in theory development and research verification. He inspired others to follow his example.

He raised controversial issues and sharpened debates over existing theories and research of crime and delinquencies. Largely because of his influence, the period between 1940 and 1960 was described by one scholar as the "classical period" in the research and study of white-collar crime.

Contributions by other white-collar researchers Sutherland's earthbreaking work was followed by a rush of studies in his footsteps. Hartung 1950 studied price control violations in the wholesale meat market in Detroit.

The distinction however was an introduction to the issue of mentality of organized crime capitalized upon in his analysis of price control violations in the meat industry. Aubert 1952 expounded on the relationship between social structure and white-collar crime. He pointed out the need to investigate the "interdependence of the origin and function of social norms and the origin of deviations. Clinard 1952, 1946 researched into black market illegality during war time.

Clinard found that in spite of the pervasive patriotic support and wide spread publicity given to such OPA regulations, violations were rampant during the war, e. There were also surprisingly very few prosecutions. The sentences imposed were likewise mild. Although, the OPA violations were every bit as socially harmful to the war effort as any other traditional criminal acts.

OPA regulations as malum in prohibita did not develop the same kind of moral indignation and repulsion as traditional crime; though jail was considered to be effective against white-collar criminals, they were withheld because of the social status and economic background of the offenders; the use of administrative measures against OPA offenders should not obscure the fact that such conducts were criminal in nature; conventional criminological theories used to explain "lower class" criminals, e.

He was critical of using Sutherland's differential association theory in explaining all white-collar criminality. The theory was flawed in many respects, e.

He used organizational economicstructural size and environmental variables geographic locations to explain regulatory violations by industrial "firms. Profit motive alone could not be used to differentiate between the law abiding and violators. However, there was a demonstrated inverse relationship between the economic conditions of a firm and its violation record.

Firms with declining profit were more inclined to violate labor and trade regulations. The study showed that ambiguity in the law tempted the firms to test the limits of the law. However, ignorance of the law or incapacity to follow the rule did not seem to be related to labor or trade practices violations.

The evidence in support of Sutherland's differential association was mixed. Violations did not appear to be associated with common "interest groups" of companies. However, some shoe manufacturing communities were more criminogenic than others.

Social and environmental pressure of a particular community did appear to influence the behavior of a firm and it executives. Adverse experience with the law did not appear to generate patterns of "anti-regulation," anti-government" or "anti-authority" sentiment or behavior.

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It was equally clear that the leadership of a firm made a material difference in maintaining a respect for the law. He observed that trusted persons breached their trust when 1 they have a financial problem non-sharable with others; 2 they could only solve the problem by abusing the position of trust; 3 they could be able to rationalize to themselves that they were there were no violation of trust, e.

He dismissed Sutherland's differential association theory as not being able to satisfactory account for why some but not all trusted people, with non-sharable personal financial problems, steal.

  • Indeed, borders restrain the judiciary, but not the criminals;
  • The temptation of bribery and the associated corruption innate to the government system at the time were taken advantage of by gangs of organized criminals to avoid arrest and prosecution;
  • The action, viewed separately from the rest, even if intentionally done, may not create the ultimate harm intended.

Quinney 1963 studied prescription violations by pharmacists. Quinney was interested in "systematic attempts to consider social structure of occupations in their explanations of white-collar crime. He found that pharmacists have to negotiate the strain created by conflicting role expectations generated by his occupation and profession.

He was expected to be a successful businessmen and an ethical professional at the same time. He found that prescription violations varied with occupational role expectations.

Pharmacists with a professional role orientation were less inclined to be prescription violators. His research was the first to draw a linkage between occupational structure and culture and deviant behavior.

Quinney also contributed to white-collar crime research methodology by insisting that only homogeneous unit of behavior can be subjected to a common explanation. There is no grand criminology theory, such as differential association, which is capable of explaining all types and kinds of white-collar crime. Summary All of these pioneers work in the formative years of white-collar crime studies were defining in their own ways.

Some of these work refined the research methodology. Others provided more detailed case studies in particular industries. A few attacked Sutherland's theses that there existed a grand universal causal theory that was capable of explaining all crimes. Still others questioned the explanatory power of differential association theory in accounting for the on set and prevalence of white-collar crime. Overall, these work shared Sutherland's espoused common theme - white-collar crime is real crime and white-collar criminals were beyond the reach of the criminal law.

There were however no conceptual or theoretical linkage between the pioneer scholars. This created a problem in the coordinating and corroborating of research effort.

The result was an emerging field of study lacking in focus, direction and sustained effort. A problem with Sutherland's definition Sutherland defined white-collar crime as ".

Many scholars took issue with the definition. Some raised troubling questions about the formal definition. For example, Quinney objected to its lack of conceptual clarity: For example, Tappan argued that only those who were formally prosecuted and convicted by a court of law should be considered a criminal. A sociological definition of white-collar crime encompassing administrative or civil violators should not be used to measure criminality. The process allowed the scholars to notice some of the inherent deficiencies of a definition build upon the quicksand of social status and quagmire of occupational activities of the offender.

It further provided the impetus and opportunity for the search for an alternative way of looking at the problem. This, more than anything else, planted the seed for the later blossoming of an organizational crime perspective. Hartung 1950 defined white-collar crime as violation by a firm or its agent.

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Clinard 1952 defined white-collar crime as: Impact of Sutherland's Legacy In the end, the cumulative effect of all these work was to give Sutherland's earth breaking concept a more defined body, substantive content and renewed focus and gathered momentum.

Together they provided much needed conceptual tools, theoretical foundation and database for later researches to build upon. These work, by virtue of their pioneer quality, set the tone, pace, texture and direction of later research and debate in the field.

However, the defining qualities of these work also possessed restricting propensities. By paying attention to "social status" as a correlate of crime, the pioneers neglected organization structure as an important causal factor to crime. By concentrating on "personal association" as a plausible explanation of crime, the pioneers diverted attention from environmental and organizational factors in structuring crime.