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Crime in the Suites Effects of Power and Privilege - Essay Example

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Elite crime, otherwise known as white collar crime, was a term coined by Edwin Sutherland in 1949 to denote offenses "committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of occupation". Sutherland sought to focus on the study of deviance on the characteristics of the criminal rather than on the crime…
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Crime in the Suites Effects of Power and Privilege

Download file to see previous pages... In spite of the larger cost to lives and property, there appears to be a tendency for many law enforcers and many parts of the society to disregard or lightly deal with crimes committed by individuals with power, influence and high standing on society.
The definition of elite crime has changed and expanded over the years such that the focus has been transferred from social class to occupation. There are now two recognized classes of elite crime: "corporate crime" and "occupational crime". The former refers to the offenses committed by the management or any employees that aimed to benefit or protect the corporation. Occupational crime refers to acts committed by an individual who made use of his employment for extra gains. This includes embezzlement of funds, leaking trade secrets and procurement fraud. To be more precise, elite crimes are offenses requiring the offender to be (1) a corporate entity or a representative thereof and/or (2) performing a particular position at the time the offense was committed. With this classification and definition, offenses are categorized as white collar crime regardless of all social classes so long as it has the characteristics provided above.
Elite criminals are considered to behave more rationally than street offenders as the later routinely operates in hedonistic contexts while the former work in settings that promote prudent decision making and exercising greater care and caution. Elite crimes also differ from street crimes in conduct as it uses deceit, guile and/or misrepresentation to exploit for illicit advantage or create the appearance of a legitimate transaction.
Previous studies in criminology focused in explaining why people commit crime and why some are more likely to commit an offense. With Sutherland's exposition of 'elite crime', a paradigm shift has occurred where the focus now lies in a sociopolitical analysis of crime. One such paradigm is the conflict theory which contends that legal content is primarily determined by those possessing great power and influence derived from membership to powerful groups of race, gender, social class and resources. The theory sees the law not as an objective, agreed-upon list of deviant and socially damaging behaviors but a doctrine tailored to serve the interests of the powerful. Privileged individuals can also impact the way the criminal justice system operates such that it targets only those who lack power and ignores the crime of those who have. Conflict theorists consider the criminal justice system to be consciously and intentionally biased. Essentially, society is in conflict due to innate differences and those who have the power to prevail determine what is right and wrong or in this case, whether an act is a crime or not.
Following the conflict theory, we can see the reasons why white collar crime has not been given proper attention in spite of the statistics showing that it has more deleterious effects on society as compared to those 'blue collar' crime. White collar crime, especially the corporate type, involves people with great resources and connections that provide them the power to influence politicians, legislators, police and even the judiciary in the definition of what is legal and what is criminal. Several corporations and even private entities have already been exposed to providing financial support, especially in the elections, in exchange of political and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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