the world system: white collar crime & organized crime

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  • The World System: White Collar Crime & Organized Crime

  • Cultural dynamics carry within them the meaning of crime

    If DEVIANCE is relative (or a matter of perspective) then the behaviors we identify as deviant (or crimes) are a function of the changing values, beliefs and practices of a population

  • Crime and Deviance constitute more than the simple enactment of a static group culture-pg3

    Peoples cultural views and practices dont just stay the same they are always changing, therefore you cannot suggest that a population is inherently criminal or inclined toward deviant behavior

  • Crucial to criminology is a critical understanding of current times (late modernity)

    Criminology seeks to understand a world in flux, those who are marginalized and excluded economically as well as those who are exalted via forms of mass communication

  • a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation E. Sutherland 1949

  • Behavior that doesnt violate criminal law should not be considered a crime, no matter how harmful it may be

    Sutherlands definition rules out lawbreaking behavior by the wealthy, such as tax evasion, that is not committed in the course of their occupation Sutherlands definition excluded crimes by blue-collar workers and businesses that share features of crimes committed by persons of high social statusSutherlands book, White-Collar Crime focused almost entirely on crime by corporationsdid this mean that white-collar crime is something that only corporations and businesses can do?

  • Occupational crime-committed by individuals in the course of their occupation for personal gain

    Corporate crime-committed by corporations (some prefer the term organizational crime over the term corporate crime)

  • :Coordinated efforts to acquire illegal profits

    *when the public demands or desires goods or services, organized criminal efforts are often there to provide them (even if the products are legal)

  • *organized crime is believed to be involved in several legitimate businesses (trash-hauling, vending and amusement machines) as well as toxic-waste disposal

  • *primary sources of income for organized remain illegal activities and products: drugs, prostitution, pornography, gambling, loan sharking and extortion

  • Organized crime has existed for centuries. Earliest examples: Piracy

    >Phoenicians, Vikings, buccaneers in the 1600s-by the end of the 1600s pirates openly traded their plunder with merchants in Boston, NY, Philadelphia and other port cities (golden age of piracy)

  • Piracy faded by late 1720s after honest officials exposed corruption and several pirate leaders were killed.

  • Understanding economic context>major reason piracy ended was that merchants began to realize they could get greater profits by trading with England; after that, the markets for pirate goods dried up, and the public demand for their services and support for their existence disappeared. (Dennis Kenney, James Finckenaeur 95)

  • Began anew in NY in early 1800s (1mil people-most poor & half immigrant and unemployed-lived crammed into 2 square miles)

  • >young women were forced into prostitution, young men formed gangs that allowed them to commit crime more effectively and evade police; these early gangs were the forerunner of todays organized crime groups (like previous org. criminal enterprises, relied on public officials)

  • By the end of the 1800s gangs had developed in NY and other eastern cities into extensive operations

    Ethnic makeup of the groups reflected the great waves of immigration into the U.S. during the 19th century; as immigrants settled into cities many inevitably turned to organized crime to make ends meet

  • The Irish were the first to take up organized crime and became dominant in many cities

    Later in the century Italians and Jews immigrated and got their share of the vice trade

  • In the 20th century African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos have become more involved in organized crimeOrganized is the one area where diverse groups have pursued economic opportunity and the American Dream

  • While urban gangs were the forerunners of organized crime, 19th century white collar criminals (robber barons) were the role models

  • Examples: Leland Stanford (railroads) bribed congressmen to gain land grants and federal loans for Central Pacific Railroad; JD Rockefeller (Standard Oil) forced competitors our of business with price wars and bombings; Du Pont family (gunpowder) cornered the market after the Civil War with bribery

  • Both Organized Crime and White Collar crime involve careful planning and coordinated effort to acquire illegal profits; both rely on active or passive collusion of public officials and on public willingness to buy the goods and services they provide

  • Rise of Organized Crime during Prohibition

    After Prohibition: gambling

    >starting in 1960s moved into drug trade (50-150billion), reducing interests in gambling

  • Suggests that organized crime today is controlled by a highly organized, hierarchical group of some 24 Italian families (Alien Conspiracy Model or Mafia mystique)

    Popularized in congressional hearings in the 1950s (see the Godfather II)

  • Sociologist Donald Cresseys book Theft of the Nation articulated this model and argued that organized crime was largely unknown before Italians immigrated to the U.S. Assumed that organized crime exists because immigrants corrupt good U.S. citizens and prey on their weaknesses

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