Why did Sutherland play such a prominent role in discovering “white-collar crime” in the sense of defining it and making it an object of criminological study?
Sutherland’s interest in “white-collar crime” was stirred by the realization that most conventional criminological theories were focused and applicable only to crimes usually perpetrated by the lower-class. He believed that his own theory of differential association was both applicable to lower-class and upper-class individuals. His interest was even more reinforced when the stock market crashed in 1929. With the country and many of the people suffering from economic depression, Sutherland became more interested in unraveling the crimes of the rich that have caused the country and millions of people at a disadvantage (Friedrichs 2009, p. 3). He was particularly angered by the manipulation of Wall Street executives that caused the misery of many Americans (Friedrichs 2010, p. 164). Thus, in the 1930s Sutherland embarked on the study of the crimes of the rich, particularly embezzlers. He then developed and refined his theory on white-collar crime with his students at the Indiana University. In 1939, Sutherland delivered a speech before the American Sociological Society, of which he was president, where he introduced the concept of white-collar crime (Friedrichs 2009, pp. 3-4).
Sutherland was born in a small rural town in Nebraska and his particular focus on “white-collar crimes” was also attributed by Friedrich (2010, p. 164) to a negative reaction against the evils of corporatism from a traditionalist view. His approach can, thus, be described as modernist and his perspective touching on a nationalist framework as he focused on the evils of corporatism within the American borders. In his speech before the members of the Society, he argued for the recognition of white-collar crime as a ‘real’ crime despite the fact that courts rarely convicted white-collar criminals. In a book published in the 1940s, he focused on the top 70 largest US corporations and concluded that they were recidivists after discovering that each had an average of 14 decisions against them although only a small fraction originated from criminal courts (Friedrichs 2009, p. 4).
Describe and explain how feminist scholars succeeded in “gendering criminology” in important ways. Provide some examples to support your response.
Traditional criminology has always focused its attention on explaining how men commit crimes. Many feminist scholars wanted to correct this by explaining the cause of crimes, differences in crime rates between men and women and the exploitation of female victims. One of the inspirations of feminist scholars is the work of Messerschmidt in 1993 in which he made a connection between crime and masculinity. Thus, men commit crimes because it is their way of validating their masculinity in the absence of more traditional means, such as economic success. The work of Messerschimdt provided groundwork for feminist writers, such as Kathleen Daly to seriously develop their theories that paved the way for gendering criminology (Lilly et al 2014, p. 265).
According to Daly and Chesney-Lind (1988), feminist scholars have been advancing their views of criminology anchored on five guiding principles. These guiding principles are: gender is more than a biological fact, and is derived from a confluence of social, historical and cultural elements; gender and gender relations significantly impact on social life and social institutions; men’s conception of their superiority and their actual dominance over women in social and political-economic fields inform gender relations, as well as the concepts of masculinity and femininity; even the production of knowledge is gendered as it is reflects men’s views, and; women should be at the center of inquiry, and not merely as an adjunct or within the periphery of men (Miller and Mullins 2009, pp. 218-223). On the basis of these principles, feminist scholars have developed various theories of criminology that effectively brought out gender into criminological discourse explaining crime as ‘gendered pathways’ (Lilly et al 2014, p. 267).
Discuss how the conservatism of the 1980s created the context for the revitalization of the classical school and the positivists’ theories of holding the individual responsible for their criminal behavior, and the subsequent return to incarceration as the answer to reducing crime.
The classical theory, which subscribed to the idea that people are motivated by the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain, began to fade by 1800s and was substituted by the positivist theories. In the 1980s, however, rehabilitation as the underpinning principle in punishment was under attack as a failure. Crime rates were increasing and there was a call to revive punishment as the primary form of deterrence. The result was a revival of the old classical theory as a neoclassical criminological theory. Once more, punishment became the primary goal of the correction system and a get-tough approach was adopted by policymakers. Prison terms were increased, the death penalty was revived and new ways to inflict more punishment were developed, such as the three-strike law, to scare off potential criminals (Vito and Maahs 2011, p. 50). The result is that the US prisons became the most populous prisons in the entire world, with 25% of its population in prison cells (ICPS 2015; Berger 2014, p. 17).
The neoclassical theory with its most prominent feature ‘get-tough’ policy emphasized punishment, and the concepts of retribution, just deserts, incapacitation and deterrence, rather than rehabilitation. The principle of just deserts simply means that a criminal is punished in accordance to the pain he inflicted on the victim and society. Incapacitation, on the other hand, means that a criminal is stopped from further harming society by physically hindering him through imprisonment to prevent contact between him with society. Retribution is simply an approach whose goal is to avenge the victim and society of the harm inflicted on them. Deterrence is the chief element of the classical, now neoclassical, theory and upon which the entire criminological theory rests upon to achieve its goal. The idea is that people are naturally pleasure-seeking and once the system deprives them of pleasure every time they commit a crime, they will avoid committing it so as not to feel the pain. Punishment, thus, is an effective deterrent, according to this criminological theory (Vito and Maahs 2011, pp. 50-51).
Explain how the Routine Activity Theory is uniquely different from most other theories regarding crime. How does this theory specifically propose to reduce crime?
The Routine Activity Theory is differentiated from most other criminological theories in that it focuses on how crimes occur, rather why a criminal commits a crime. Most other criminological theories deliberate and make assumptions as to the motives of a criminal, whether a criminal is born or made and other factors that pushes or make a person susceptible to criminality. The RAT, on the other hand, advocates the idea that criminality can be explained and even predicted by the presence and absence of some elements that make a person or a place an attraction to certain crimes. These elements are suitable targets, absence of guardians and presence of motivated offenders. A suitable target is a person or place that has value or in possession of items that has value to the criminal. A guardian is a person or authority that stands between the criminal and the target providing potential hindrance to crime, such as the police or homeowner. Lastly, the motivated offender is the potential criminal who has needs that can be met by committing a crime against the suitable target. The confluence of these three elements creates a window for the occurrence of crime. This theory, thus, proposes a simple solution to the reduction of crime: do not provide an opportunity for the motivated offender by removing the other elements, especially the suitable target and absent guardian. Thus, removing a suitable target and/or establishing the presence of a capable guardian should make the motivated offender desist from committing a crime. For example, one should not leave his house unlocked or police presence must be established in hot spots (Tillyer and Eck 2009, pp. 271-281).
Berger, D. (2014). Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era. UNC Press Books.
Friedrichs, D. (2009). Trusted Criminals: White Collar Crime In Contemporary Society. Cengage Learning.
Friedrichs, D. (2010). White-Collar Crime in a Postmodern, Globalized World. In Pontell, H. and Geis, G. (eds.), International Handbook of White-Collar and Corporate Crime (pp. 163-176). Springer Science & Business Media.
ICPS (2015). Highest to Lowest – Prison Population Total. International Centre for Prison Studies. Retrieved from http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison-population-total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All.
Lilly, R., Cullen, F. and Ball, R. (2014). Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences. SAGE Publications.
Miller, J. and Mullins, C. (2011).The Status of Feminist Theories in Criminology. In Cullen, F., Wright, J. and Blevins, K. (eds.), Taking Stock: The Status of Criminological Theory (pp. 217-249). Transaction Publishers.
Tillyer, M. and Eck, J. (2009). Routine Activities. In Miller, J. (ed.), 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook, Volume 1 (pp. 279-2287). SAGE Publications.
Vito, G. and Maahs, J. (2011). Criminology: Theory, Research, and Policy. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.