A Critique of an Article on Public Attitude Towards White Collar Crime

The article addresses the issue of white collar crime and the attitudes towards the punishment of white collar offenders in comparison to ordinary or street crime offenders in the United States of America. White-collar crimes date back to the  robber barons  of the late 19th century when greed became the primary motivator of these individuals in robbing the public through  legal  means.  The term of  white-collar crime  was coined in the 1930s and is characterized by crimes committed by respectable people in society and status in the line of their profession. The article shows how the public has been duped into seeing as victorious the parades of corporate executives going to jail for decades while the institutions they left behind are not changed to prohibit such crimes from recurring. The article criticizes the conspiracy by the government and others in powerful positions to parade a few executives and have them sent to jail for long periods of time while failing to close the gaps that provide people in such opportunities to commit white collar crimes such as embezzlement.

The authors initially look at how public attitude towards white collar crime has changed over the years to become what it is today where Americans have a significantly harsher attitude towards white collar crimes. The article states that the American public was largely  inattentive to the problem of crime in the upperworld  where it can be inferred that they appear to be  harmless  as compared to those committed by underworld characters (Cullen, Hartman, Jonson, 2008, p. 32).  However, incidents such as the Watergate scandal, Vietnam War and the civil rights movement led to a rise in concern about white collar crime. The article shows how public willingness to punish white collar crime has increased with increased awareness of its existence. This article talks about how the invention of the opinion poll in the 1930 s led to a scientific and accurate way to examine public opinion. It shows how national polls have in recent years showed that about 70 of respondents have requested tougher punishments for white collar criminals. It talks about how such polls have even been cited in U.S. Supreme Court judgments in death penalty cases to show how the public  supports a get tough approach to crime (Cullen, Hartman, Jonson, 2008, pp. 31, 33).

Furthermore, this article looks at how opinion polls such as Newsweek poll have over the years focused on ordinary crime by mostly asking questions that relate to street crimes. They have done this by asking questions such as do you feel safe when you walk on the streets at night He thus justifies his article by stating that research on white collar crime has been sparse in comparison to opinion polls on attitudes towards violent or other forms of crime that are ordinarily committed by the poor and minority groups. This article talks about three periods in relation to awareness and attitudes towards white collar crime. The fist is before the year 1970, the second period is from year 1970 to year 2000 and the third period is from year 2000 to the present as evidenced by the scandals that  rocked such big businesses such as Enron and WorldCom.. The article states that awareness has increased gradually over the years and currently over 70 of Americans support imprisonment for white collar criminals (Cullen, Hartman, Jonson, 2008, pp. 35-37).

The article criticizes how many white collar crimes are done with impunity since the law is not strict enough to specifically outlaw their activities. Politicians and the government are unwilling to specifically outlaw some of these crimes which are not yet outlawed in sufficient detail. Apart from using evidence from opinion polls this article also uses credible sources such as E.A. Ross Sin and Society. Ross warned against the white collar  criminaloids  and said that the  United states was experiencing a cultural lag in that its laws and public sentiments were not consistent with the new threats posed by advancing industrial capitalism.  Ross was warning about a lagging public attitude towards white collar crime and its punishment (Cullen, Hartman, Jonson, 2008, pp. 34, 41). A similar argument is shown in this article in White Collar Crime by Edwin Sutherland. This article analyses various opinion polls on public attitudes and shows the change until people doing white collar crimes were considered as equal to ordinary criminals such as a burglar or mugger (Cullen, Hartman, Jonson, 2008, pp. 34-35). This article cites relevant material and establishes a consensus that the problem being investigated is relevant and important. The article calls for further research on the issue of attitudes towards white collar crime and relevant laws. The author concludes that the structures that enable corruption, embezzlement and other forms of while collar crime be reviewed and altered.


Post a Comment