chapter  12
24 Pages

Blue-collar, white-collar: crimes and mistakes

WithNeal Shover, Ben W. Hunter

A rising tide of white-collar crime throughout much of the world signals unambiguously that those who commit these offences merit increased scrutiny from investigators and policy-makers. This chapter begins by documenting briefly the growing importance of white-collar offences in Western nations as well as the financial toll they exact. Descriptive comparison of the demographic characteristics of and explanations for their crimes provided by convicted white-collar criminals and street offenders shows pronounced differences. Their sources lie in the different class origins and cultural capital of white-collar and common offenders. Class-based cultural capital affects the way each construes their criminal acts, their treatment at the hands of the criminal justice apparatus and research participation. Their middle-class and upper-middle-class backgrounds inevitably constrain the conduct of investigations in which white-collar criminals are informants or subjects. It also points to ways potentially of enhancing the validity and utility of ethnographic data collected from them.