• Internal Code :
  • Subject Code : CCJ 2007
  • University : Griffith University
  • Subject Name : Criminology

White-Collar Crime


A standard definition of white-collar crime is among the intellectual challenges facing academics. The key feature is that during an annexation, it is a social crime perpetrated by people of integrity and high economic status. While the idea of white-collar crime has taught sociologists, legal scholars, and management scientists in Edwin Sutherland, prosecutors, judges, and politicians can be confused in the definition. One explanation is that in Sutherland's study, white-collar crime is a criminal action by a certain kind of person and a particular type of crime.

Subsequent research has shown that white-collar crime, as described in this book, is not a typical sort of crime, but a crime committed by a particular type of individual. Following the underlying theories, cases, and existing implications relating to white-collar crimes, people of high social status are given more priorities, privileges, and fewer sanctions than violent “blue-collar crime” offenders.

How White-Collar Crimes Are Understood

Since Sutherland pioneered the word "white-collar crimes" in 1939, extensive work and argument of what should and should not be included in this definition have taken place. While the structure is the key characteristic of economic crime committed during an occupation by an individual of progressiveness and a high social level, other aspects are not correct (Van Slyke, Benson, & Cullen, 2016). In the context of criminology studies, Edwin Sutherland is among the most cited social scientists. Sutherland's research influenced and motivated several academics involved in his work in the field. His theories affect researchers, challenge them, and motivate them (Dodge, 2020). The study of Sutherland on white-collar crime is primarily focused on his concept of differential partnerships. This principle of deviance is about how people become criminals.

Many investigators have been motivated by the seminal challenge posed by Sutherland to reject conventional criminology and to concentrate on the crime committed by the poor people. From Michel (2016) observation, this was a significant insight into how the field of criminology continues today has begun to change significantly and grow. The long-lasting impact of Sutherland on criminological, sociological, and, more recently, organisational theory can be seen around the world but in the US and Europe in general.

Sutherland revealed offenses by people that were considered essentially superior and who appeared not to have had to antagonise as a means of control to escape from punishments following their criminal activities (Kawasaki, 2019). Entrepreneurs and practitioners often commit gross wrongdoing and damage with little anxiety of criminal investigation since they know their positions will keep them off-hook. Joblessness and powerlessness have always been the source of one type of social crime, while the cause of a certain kind of crime may be overpowering.

In the event of war crime where businesses make a big profit by abusing the state of national crisis in wartime, Sutherland illustrated the corporate entity as a perpetrator. From Goossen, Johansson, & Larsson (2016) perspective, corporate shape, and features as a productive company type War value. The definition of white-collar crime in Sutherland is trained by sociologists, criminologists, and experts in management, but lawyers, judges, and politicians may have misunderstood the term. There is no white-collar crime in many other jurisdictions. According to Rorie (2019), crimes are, for example, corruption, malpractice, tax evasion, fraud, and trafficking in indoors, but there are no crimes of white-collar. One of the advantages of Sutherland's contributions to the question of constructs such as law and crime can be seen as demonstrating that law and legal differences are made in very different ways politically and economically across different regions and countries of the world.

Offender types

Delinquency is illegal acts that breach personal or corporate benefit obligation or public trust. According to Haines (2020), this is one of a collection of actions committed by non-physical means to acquire money or property or to achieve business or personal profit. Because of its atypical relation to social influence in contrast with other forms of criminal activities, white-collar crime is the particular crime area. In its connection with rank, opportunity, and connect directly, white-collar crime is characterised (Fredericks et al., 2016). That is the prospect of the offender. In comparison, white-collar crime aggressive strategies underline the actions and essence of the unlawful act as the determining force.

There are offender-bases features such as wealth and status, strength, and actor progressiveness emphasises in their comparisons of the two strategies. Since status is free to differ separately from the logic in most legislative changes, Braithwaite (2018) argued that is not included in determining offensive line-based approaches, an offense-based approach enables status action to evolve into an external explanatory variable. It underlines the idea that people with more convictions and availability of resources are more likely to commit violent crimes with White Collar and that they have corporate power positions.

Theories Contributing to Lack of Attention to White-Collar Crimes

Comfort theory

The theory of comfort emphasises the role and trust enjoyed by the individual in an employment atmosphere in keeping with Sutherland's original creation. The creation of an agreed concept of white-collar crime is a conceptual issue facing researchers in this rising field of study. Therefore, the white-collar concept has not yet been understood by the stakeholders, and therefore laws regarding the crime are yet to be put in place.

Differential association theory (DAT)

DAT or disparity correlation theory suggests that in relationship with other people, illegal behaviour is taught. For numerous reasons, Zysman‐Quirós (2019) observed that Sutherland's white-collar idea of crime was so influential. Firstly, Sutherland has a determination to ignore the criminology of the type of crime perpetrated by the mighty and powerful upper class in society. Secondly, Marriott (2018) emphasised the amount of damage done by the crime of white collars. In contrast to the widely studied and regular focus on crime by poor people, and the degree of social intervention responses, the magnitude of damage caused by criminal act by rich people is disproportionate. Thirdly, the emphasis is on organisational criminals, where crime takes place in their work. According to Bruinsma & Johnson (2018), an offender who uses respectability and higher social status to commit a crime in the course of his/her job is a white-collar. Fourthly, the corporation's creation as a criminal offender shows that companies, too, can be held responsible for abuse and crimes. Lastly, is the capacity to theorise community leaders' various behaviours.

Convenience theory

Convenience theory states that the perpetrator has access to social crime and its wealth. The stereotypical account of a white-collar offender is as follows: Firstly, Almond & van Erp (2018) claimed that the individual has a high social status and significant power, has trust and confidence, and belongs to the elite of the community. Second, the wealthy typically have more expertise, money, and prestige higher than other people in the general population. Thirdly, Triplett (2018) claimed that the elite's rights and powers are often neither noticeable nor explicit, but are commonly known. Fourth, elite leaders are involved in the business, government, politics, communities, and many other fields of industry.

Fifth, the elite is a minority that functions as a dominant authority for others within various jurisdictions. Sixth, the person is always affluent and does not have to live a life of luxury on the ill-gotten gains through crime; this is the perception that is created in the society and therefore enables these people to scot-free despite engaging in criminal acts. Seventh, Goulette (2020) argued that the person is usually well-trained and links to important spouse and friend channels. The person takes advantage of his or her white-collar crime status.

Eighth, Freiberg (2019) observed that the person does not see himself as an offender, but instead as a building company that applies his conduct to personal laws. Ninth, the human being may be in a position to prevent the police from launching an investigation into a crime (Cullen, Chouhy, & Jonson, 2019). Lastly, the individual has access to opportunities that permit the involvement of senior lawyers and can prosecute his or her case in the public eye in such a way that the defendant, often a comparable class to the magistrate and the prosecutor, is in the high class.

Criminology and sociology theory

According to this theory, the legislators have nothing that distinguishes them from other forms of offenses necessarily from the nature of other violent crimes. One explanation is that in Sutherland's study, white-collar crime is both an offense inflicted both by a particular type and by a different type of crime (Galvin, 2020). Subsequent research has shown, as this book stated, that crime with White Collar does not constitute a specific form of crime. One component of social disorganisation disparity theory and had a significant impact on later researchers. The primary constructions and meanings of Sutherland have split criminology.

Belle Gibson “Snake Oil Saleswoman” Case

Case summary

Belle Gibson from Australia became famous as a blogger and author. She reported her recovery by diet, workout, and different natural treatments, having suffered from multiple forms of cancers, including "terminal brain cancer," her complete healing. By 2015, it is reported that Gibson has made revenues of an app and a show based on its experience over A$ 1 million. The Entire Pantry was both named, like her blog. Gibson estimated that a total A$ 300,000 had been donated to charity after these sales and after numerous fund-raising efforts on behalf of various charities.

Offenders and outcomes

That kind of elegance. The youth of this nature. That is so innocent. That is a fraud! Media reports on Gibson's lies surrounding her philanthropy have led her to investigate her multiple health statements more closely. In 2016, Consumer Affairs Victoria opened civil proceedings against Gibson and her organisation in connection with her illness, care, and donations to charities. The Melbourne Federal Court stated that Gibson should never dream of cancer as there was no basis.


The outcome was sufficient as Gibson has forged her health status to engage in fraud, thus hurting the app buyers and believers of her medical issue as they are directly affected victims.

Social impact

Gibson’s actions created a negative social impact on society as it portrayed that people of unique problems or status could manipulate others just for personal gains and not for the benefit of any other person.

Theory Explaining Belle Gibson’s Case

Criminology and sociology theory best explain Gibson’s case. The theory suggests that both high-status individuals and violent offenders are the same in a court of law, and the ruling should be fair. Gibson’s ruling against her suggests that this theory was applied effectively.

Implications Gibson’s Crimes

Crime incentives

Crime incentives are developed and distributed according to the essence of the economic and competitive activities within the community of different sectors of government and industry. Do not limit chances to organisational tasks. They stress however that in an institutional setting, the incentive is typically more generous. Telling lies, stealing, and manipulating debates, while current thinking of profit-driven offence persists. For instance, Gibson’s use of fake cancer problems results in her fraudulent activities being given a lighter ruling in court.

Financial power and gender issues

The white-collar criminal is an individual who perpetrates financial crimes during his or her career with respectability and high social standing. With regard to offenders, white-collar criminals feel compelled to have many features coherent with high-class status aspirations. The rank is a classification based on more objectively recognisable attributes such as ethnicity, age, and sex and does not entail any particular behaviour and merits. For instance, from the fact that Gibson was female and had made huge money ruled her out of life sentence in prison as other low-class disadvantaged Australians are treated in such cases.


In summary, white-collar crime can, in the future, be a type of crime appropriate for regulation, as Sutherland has envisaged in its crime-based approach, concentrating on the particular offender's attributes when deciding the type of crime categorisation. Sutherland was and continues to be influential in its broader approach to criminological and sociocultural theory, such as its theory of distinction and social learning. Gibson’s case ruling has proven that criminology and sociology theory are the best theories to curb the discriminative aspect that happens in public and court during white-collar criminal offenses.


Almond, P., & van Erp, J. (2018). Regulation and governance versus criminology: Disciplinary divides, intersections, and opportunities. Regulation & Governance.

Braithwaite, J. (2018). Regulation, crime and freedom. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge.

Bruinsma, G., & Johnson, S. D. (Eds.). (2018). The Oxford handbook of environmental criminology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Cullen, F. T., Chouhy, C., & Jonson, C. L. (2019). Public opinion about white‐collar crime. The Handbook of White‐Collar Crime, 209-228.

Dodge, M. (2020). A Black Box Warning: The Marginalization of White-Collar Crime Victimization. Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime, 1(1), 24-33.

Fredericks, K. A., McComas, R. E., & Weatherby, G. A. (2016). White collar crime: recidivism, deterrence, and social impact. Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal, 2(1), 1-11.

Freiberg, A. (2019). Researching white‐collar crime: an Australian perspective. The Handbook of White‐Collar Crime, 418-436.

Galvin, M. A. (2020). Gender and white-collar crime–theoretical issues. Criminal Justice Studies, 1-9.

Goossen, M., Johansson, S.I., & Larsson, D. (2016). Basic human values and white-collar crime: Findings from Europe. European Journal of Criminology, 13(4), 434-452.

Goulette, N. (2020). What are the gender differences in risk and needs of males and females sentenced for white-collar crimes?. Criminal Justice Studies, 1-15.

Haines, F. (2020). Interrogating criminological expertise in the context of white collar crime. Routledge Handbook of Public Criminologies.

Kawasaki, T. (2019). Review of comparative studies on white‐collar and corporate crime. The Handbook of White‐Collar Crime, 437-447.

Marriott, L. (2018). Pursuit of white-collar crime in New Zealand. J. Austl. Tax'n, 20, 35.

Michel, C. (2016). Violent street crime versus harmful white-collar crime: A comparison of perceived seriousness and punitiveness. Critical Criminology, 24(1), 127-143.

Rorie, M. L. (2019). The Handbook of White-collar Crime. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Triplett, R. A. (Ed.). (2018). The handbook of the history and philosophy of criminology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Van Slyke, S. R., Benson, M. L., & Cullen, F. T. (Eds.). (2016). The Oxford handbook of white-collar crime. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Zysman‐Quirós, D. (2019). White‐collar crime in South and Central America: Corporate‐state crime, governance, and the high impact of the Odebrecht corruption case. The Handbook of White‐Collar Crime, 363-380.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Criminology Assignment Help

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