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Cover The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

31. Critical perspectives on punishment  

This chapter details a range of perspectives which effectively question the underlying assumptions behind the concept of ‘punishment’. This represents a shift in emphasis from the system ‘as it is’ to a critical evaluation of its social and ideological foundations, along with some ideas about how it might be different if we follow through the implications of these critical arguments. The chapter explores ideas about the use of punishment as a vehicle for maintaining the dominance of particular interests within society, and using it to exert social control. Implicated in this is the suggestion that claims of legitimacy, fairness, and justice must be called into question, especially in light of the evidence of the unequal treatment of certain groups, such as members of the black and minority ethnic communities. Critical perspectives also invite us to consider why some forms of behaviour, such as corporate negligence and tax fraud, appear to be much less heavily penalised (if at all) than crimes more typically associated with other groups and communities, such as benefit fraud or drug offences.

Chapter

Cover The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

32. White-collar and corporate crime  

Michael Levi and Nicholas Lord

This chapter presents a succinct overview of key debates and ideas associated with theory, research, and practice in the area of white-collar and corporate crimes. First, it considers white-collar and corporate crimes in the twenty-first century, contextualizing these phenomena and reinforcing their criminological significance. Second, it revisits on-going conceptual debates, identifying central analytical features of white-collar and corporate crimes before going on to argue in favour of shifting attention towards understanding how white-collar crimes are organized and the conditions that shape this over time. Third, it reviews ways of explaining these behaviours, ranging from consideration of individual propensities and rationality through organizational context and culture to wider social conditions. Fourth, it examines current policing and regulation strategies, concluding with a discussion of key themes in white-collar crime research and scholarship.