Report No. 29
12. Description of white-collar crime.-That white-collar crime is essentially connected with social status has been brought out in the following description given by a writer on Criminology1:-
"White-collar crime is most distinctively defined in terms of attitudes toward those who commit it. White-collar crime is definitely made punishable by law. It is convictable behaviour. However, it is generally regarded by courts and by sections of the general public as much less reprehensible than crimes usually punished by our courts, which may be designated "blue-collar crime". Blue-collar crime is the crime of the under-privileged; white-collar crime is upper or middle-class crime. Just what proportion or section of the population must condone this type of behaviour to constitute it as white-collar is not, and perhaps cannot be, clear. Many courts and other authorities clearly distinguish between a man who illegally misrepresents the qualities of his products and a burglar or robber. Yet the very existence of the law penalising the former type of act indicates an adverse attitude towards it, though ordinarily not of the same degree.
The fact that white-collar crime is punished in less degrading ways than "ordinary crime" does not imply that the former is petty. Actually society loses huge sums through white-collar crime. Some of the rackets we described in an earlier chapter are white-collar crimes; some are not. As Sutherland defines the term, most racketeering by officers of a labour union would not be white-collar crime; nor, apparently would the vice racket be so defined.
Thus neither in terms of class status, business activity attitudes, nor degree of seriousness can white-collar crime be wholly separated from other crime. Nevertheless, it is the somewhat distinctive attitudes and policiestowards the offender in such cases which have been given significance in discussions of white-collar crime. It appears that even outside of business circles, white-collar crime is less reprehensible than ordinary crime, because low-class people often aspire so be white-collar criminals. Or if not, they at least accept the same individualism and the same value of materialism which the middle and upper classes accept. White-collar crime is attractive because it brings material rewards with little or no loss of status.
1. Taft and England, Criminology, (1964), pp. 200-201.
13. White-collar crimes in 18th century.-Problems similar to white-collar crimes had arisen as far back as the 18th century. The "South Sea Bubble" led to The Bubble Act of 17201, which may be cited as example of an effort by the Legislature to deal with fraud on a big scale perpetrated by unscrupulous persons2-3. But the varieties of such crimes and their diverse manifestations were seen more acutely after the First World War.
1. The Bubble Act, 1720 (6 Geo. 1, c. 18).
2. See Gower Modern Company Law, (1957) (1963 Impression), pp. 27 to 30.
3. See also Gower in (1952) 68 LQR 214.