'White Collar' Crimes

THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CRIMINAL LAW (M. Dubber & T. Hornle eds. 2014)

26 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2014 Last revised: 6 Jan 2015

Date Written: July 22, 2014


In addition to serving as a précis of the subject of ‘white collar’ crime, this chapter does three things. First, it deals with white collar crime’s longstanding definitional problem, rejecting several standard approaches and arguing that the category is most usefully understood according to the conceptual legal problem these offenses generate. White collar crimes, much more than other offenses, are committed in social settings in which undesirable behaviors are embedded within socially welcome conduct. Thus they are difficult to set apart and extract through clearly specified ex ante rules of law. Second, the chapter illustrates this definitional claim, and discusses its limitations, through a brief description of this field’s large and highly active enforcement landscape, primarily in the United States. Third, the chapter relates the definitional claim to persistent public debate about white collar crime and explains why equilibrium in that discussion is not likely given ambivalence toward the criminal justice system’s treatment of socially advantaged persons.

Suggested Citation

Buell, Samuel W., 'White Collar' Crimes (July 22, 2014). THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CRIMINAL LAW (M. Dubber & T. Hornle eds. 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2469991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2469991

Samuel W. Buell (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7193 (Phone)

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