Edwin Sutherland is the pioneer of the study of white-collar crimes. The introduction and development of the concept of white-collar crime did not occur in a vacuum. Indeed, prior academic work and societal changes influenced Sutherland’s scholarship, and his scholarship, in turn, has had an enormous influence on criminology and criminal justice. Hence he is accredited for the coining and development of the concept of white-collar crime more than 70 years ago and very correctly drew attention to the fact that crimes are committed by individuals in all social classes.


WHITE-COLLAR CRIME is a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. This new concept of criminal misconduct is defined as criminal behaviors of the members of the upper class, but the research of Sutherland focused on all sorts of offenses includ­ing workplace theft, fraud by mechanics, deception by shoe sales persons, and crimes by corporations. It might be asserted that Sutherland committed a “bait and switch” in defining one type of crime, but actually researching another variety. The immoral nature of the activities is seen as the foundation for defining the white-collar activities as criminal. Some prefer to define white-collar crime as violations of criminal law also.

However, in terms of conceptual ambiguity, critics have noted that white-collar crime was vaguely and loosely defined by Sutherland. Moreover, it is very difficult to ascertain and investigate such crimes. Mostly white-collar crimes are not reported to formal response agencies too.

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Post contributed By:

Souradeep Rakshit
Asst. Prof. of Law
IILS, Dagapur



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