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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

White-collar crime was traditionally a subject that was confined to the shadows. However, the economic meltdown of 2008–2009 focused increasing criminological attention on white-collar crime. This chapter examines historically the social science trajectory of the concept of white-collar crime. The chapter explains the debate regarding definitions that concentrate on the status of offenders versus those that focus on the legal standing of the behavior as the key element of white-collar crime. The early definition of white-collar crime was an offense committed by a person of high position in the course of his or her occupation. The chapter concludes by arguing that this definition has more potential for focusing attention on malevolent behaviors that in contemporary times reflect power that is inequitably distributed and poorly regulated. Because of this inequality, the dishonest in the upper echelons are able to ruthlessly exploit the remainder of the citizenry without facing serious consequences.

Keywords: meltdown, offenders, power, regulation, white-collar crime

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