Crimes of the Powerful

White-Collar Crime and Beyond

Authored by: David O. Friedrichs , Dawn L. Rothe

Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415779678
eBook ISBN: 9780203864326
Adobe ISBN: 9781135192808


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Crimes of the powerful have not been a major focus of criminological inquiry historically, but this situation has changed in recent decades. The term “crimes of the powerful” was put forth by Frank Pearce (1976) in a book with that title, and continues to be invoked – for example by David Whyte in Crimes of the Powerful: A Reader – in relation to “crimes committed by state institutions and private business organizations or corporations” (Whyte, 2009). The initial criminological attention to crimes of the powerful was principally a consequence of white-collar crime scholarship. The contemporary interest in white-collar crime is reflected in the steady stream of books and articles ranging in focus from occupational crimes committed by individuals for their own benefit (e.g. fraud, tax evasion) to organizational crimes committed on behalf of organizational interests and goals (e.g. corporate crime, state–corporate crime, crimes of the state, and crimes of globalization). Critical criminologists have played a key role in the promotion of criminological attention to crimes of the powerful. The present chapter offers an exploration of the points of intersection or convergence between critical criminology and such crime. Before addressing these issues we first provide a brief overview of some major dimensions of white-collar crime, with special attention to crimes of the powerful within an organizational context.

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