A murder here, a scandal there. The modern world has evolved into a canvas of unthinkable and extreme crimes. Two of the most vulnerable types are white- and blue-collar crimes. This piece gives a brief account about the differences as well as some interrelations between these two types of crimes.
Did You Know?
More than 12 million crimes are committed in the United States every year, the highest number in the world at present.
A topic of debate in criminology, for quite a few years, has been the definition and classification of crime itself. The boundaries of the nature of crime and its underlying motives are fading away. What has remained unchanged though, is the apparent consequence of a crime – harm. It may be financial, physical, or psychological. The hardships faced by a victim of a serious crime are intense, and the damages, irrevocable.
Crimes are categorized in broad types, and blue-collar and white-collar crimes come in the same type. The kind of perpetrators, circumstances, and motives of these two types generally differ drastically. One enters your house, while the other enters your bank account. The perils of living in a society where both coexist are strongly felt. Though both the terms are ambiguous, this article chalks out a simplified comparative analysis of white-collar and blue-collar crimes.
Definition and History
A non-violent crime that is committed for some kind of financial gain is referred to as a white-collar crime. These crimes are responsible for directly or indirectly affecting the finances of millions of investors. They are generally committed by well-educated people with high levels of intelligence, which makes them extremely complex in nature. It usually takes a while for such crimes to be unearthed.
The term was coined by sociologist Prof. Edwin Sutherland. He put the definition based on social class, rather than the nature of the crime. It was focused on ‘who did it’, rather than ‘what he did’. The scope for white-collar crimes have elevated profoundly after the Industrial Revolution. Laws were revised, acts were passed, and policies were updated to keep them from happening. Government agencies like the FBI, SEC, and IRS take stringent action against anyone who undertakes any unlawful activities which come under these types of crimes.
This term, in criminology, is used to describe crimes committed by an individual from a lower social class, whereas white-collar crimes are associated with people from a higher social class. The nature of these crimes is pretty much profound, as opposed to white-collar crimes which possess a higher level of sophistication.
The original term ‘blue-collar’ was coined in the 1920s, where the labor class were called ‘blue-collar workers’ due to the color of their uniforms. The other term, blue-collar crimes, came into existence later, referring to the crimes committed by this class of people.
White-collar Vs. Blue-collar Crimes
|White-collar Crime||Blue-collar Crime|
|▣ Illegal insider trading
▣ Bankruptcy fraud
▣ Insurance fraud
▣ Trade secret theft
▣ Antitrust violations
▣ Securities fraud
▣ Credit card fraud
▣ Internet/computer fraud
▣ Drug abuse
▣ Physical assault
▣ Sexual assault
▣ Financial gains
▣ Fear of losing status and position
▣ Financial greed
▣ Peer pressure
|▣ Loss of revenue
▣ Personal losses to victims
▣ Huge financial losses to investors
▣ Property losses
▣ Loss of services to customers
|▣ Physical and psychological hardships to the victims and their families
▣ Increasing insensitivity towards violence
▣ Negative influence on children
|▣ Long-term imprisonment
▣ Community service
|▣ Community service
▣ Short-term imprisonment
▣ Long-term imprisonment without probation
It is evident that white-collar crimes involve meticulous planning and coordination, whereas blue-collar crimes are a result of instinctive thinking backed by emotional weight. Yet, with changing times and circumstances, there has been a role reversal in this domain too. On one hand, some white-collar crimes are ventured upon just for the thrill of it, and on the other hand, some blue-collar crimes are precisely planned and carried out. Adding to this, there has been a sort of hybridization of these two. White-collar crimes are known to be carried out using blue-collar techniques, taking it to a dangerous level of sophistication.
For instance, consider a high level official of a huge corporation indulging in corrupt practices. He has messed up the accounts books, broken the rules, and has put the company in great jeopardy. He has arrived to the point where he can no longer continue the act in concealment. Someone has to be blamed. These are situations when white-collar crimes may become potentially harmful to innocent people involved with the corporation. This official might take up practices like threatening certain employees, or even go up to the point of causing them physical harm.
Punishments in white-collar crimes are debatable. They vary from nation to nation, and the damages incurred. With the scale of frauds on the rise, the punishments pertaining to such crimes have become stricter. As for blue-collar crimes, given the distinctness of their nature, the punishments are pretty clear too.