Specific theories of white-collar crime are actively discussed today concerning the appropriateness of the used definition for this type of crime and areas these theories cover. Edwin Sutherland’s definition of white-collar crime was rather provocative in terms of its accurateness because of the focus on such factors as offenders’ status and the environment for committing a crime, but it still forms the base for modern theories (Cullen, Agnew, & Wilcox, 2017).
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Although Sutherland’s definition and theoretical assumptions are viewed as requiring more detail and research, recent studies support this definition, the theories of white-collar crime, and their relevance to discuss corporations’ and executives’ financial law-breaking and frauds.
The factor of occupation discussed by Sutherland as the key one to define the concept has been further developed to the idea of convenience in recent literature. According to Gottschalk (2017), white-collar criminals choose to act after assessing convenience for committing a crime depending on their surroundings and possibilities to save costs and avoid punishment. Despite researchers’ attempts to argue the effectiveness of Sutherland’s controversial approach to discussing the definition of white-collar crime based on status and occupation, they have found out that other factors are irrelevant.
For example, Holtfreter (2015) stated that the gender factor cannot explain the white-collar crime in contrast to traditional aspects accentuated by Sutherland and his followers. Eaton and Korach (2016) also emphasized the importance of an offender’s social status and his or her reputation in profiling according to the theories of white-collar crime. From this perspective, despite the controversial character of Sutherland’s traditional definition of white-collar crime influencing the development of the theory, it is supported in recent studies on the topic.
Cullen, F. T., Agnew, R., & Wilcox, P. (2017). Part IX: Theories of white-collar crime. In F. T. Cullen, R. Agnew & P. Wilcox (Eds.), Criminological theory: Past to present: Essential readings (6th ed.), (pp. 319-350). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Eaton, T. V., & Korach, S. (2016). A criminological profile of white-collar crime. Journal of Applied Business Research, 32(1), 129-142.
Gottschalk, P. (2017). Convenience in white-collar crime: Introducing a core concept. Deviant Behavior, 38(5), 605-619.
Holtfreter, K. (2015). General theory, gender-specific theory, and white-collar crime. Journal of Financial Crime, 22(4), 422-431.