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How To Be A White Collar Criminal

1860 words - 7 pages

For a crime to take place there is two key elements that must be present. Logically first, there needs to be the criminal opportunity, there could be no bank robbery if there was no bank. This is especially noteworthy for white collar crime as it necessarily required an occupation in which the crime is to be committed, also it differs from street crime in this regard because the offender has ‘legitimate access’. “By definition one must be in the white-collar world to be a white-collar offender” (Hirshi and Gottfredson 1987:967). The second component to crime is motivation to utilize the opportunity: if one just won the lottery, there would be no motivation to rob the bank - at least no financial motive (Benson and Simpson 2009:79). Because white collar crime is committed within the course of legitimate business, the offender differs greatly from those who engage in street crime. White collar criminals are overwhelmingly white males who are employed and contrary to popular belief they are not always from the upper class, however there socioeconomic standing is greater than those whom are involved in street crime (Braithwaite 1985:4). Because of the opportunity structure of white collar crime this general profile is not surprising, but it is important to remember that not everyone who fits this profile, or who has the appropriate coincidence of opportunity and motivation will go on to commit a white collar offence. There seems to be an essential element missing from the equation, and this paper will argue that what is missing from other theories is the cognitive psychological side of offending. This paper will use a motivational framework to looks at what leads an individual to commit a white collar offence, namely the symbolic construction of opportunity. This paper also assumes the opportunity and motivational components to be essential and true of crime. The preservation of self-identity and the offender’s account of crime will be examined to show how they are a critical element. First some myths and common beliefs will be disused, starting with motivation for white collar crime and then moving on to individualistic and social interaction theories.
Motivation for White Collar Crime
Motive and opportunity may appear at face value to be fairly simplistic ideas. However, as will be discussed there is a lot more to opportunity than just the availability of a crime, similarly there appears to be more to motivation. Most safely argue there is a clear financial motivation in white collar crimes; monetary success is extremely emphasised in western culture, and presumably everyone is motivated to have more money than less. From this logic it is easy to derive the conclusion that greed is the central motivation for white-collar offending (Braithwaite 1985:5). Blickle et al (2006) proposed that people place different amounts of value on material things, and for those whom this value is high he calls hedonists (2006:220). Western culture places a strong...

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