Comparative Analysis Of Essentials Of Sociology By George Ritzer And White-Collar Criminality By Edwin Sutherland

Essentials of Sociology by George Ritzer and White-Collar Criminality by Edwin Sutherland both cover one of the main topics in Sociology, which is Crime. While Ritzer has a more traditional take on the topic, Sutherland agrees with the traditional views and further understands that white-collar crimes are not always handled as they should be. This is because white-collar crimes take place under business administrations who often look the other way when a rule is bent, for the overall well-being and profit of the company. While the administrations of such white-collar jobs have the responsibility to investigate any suspicious, illegal activity and punish those who are found guilty, the act of punishing typically does not take place.

Sutherland uses White-Collar Criminality to persuade agencies to take action against rising issues of business fraud because the country’s legal system often focusing on general crime and such business fraud slips through the cracks. The white-collar crimes that take place in the business world, and aren’t addressed, can often have a larger impact on society than other petty crimes that take place on the streets. Sutherland said it himself, “White-collar crimes violate trust and therefore create distrust, which lowers social morale and produces social disorganization on a large scale. Other crimes produce relatively little effect on social institutions or social organization”. It is clear that the textbook’s definition of crime, “a form of deviance must be negatively sanctioned by the legal system” may be too simplified and boxed off; Sutherland’s analysis of crime shows that there are levels to it and often what isn’t necessarily detected as crime can have an even larger negative impact. Deviance versus crime is pertinent to the conversation because, according to Essentials of Sociology, “Most forms of deviances...are not crime. However, all crimes… are forms of deviance.” Sutherland would agree with the textbook’s take on crime in this sense because the criminality occurring in the business world would be considered forms of deviance. For example, “Misinterpretation in financial statements of corporations, manipulation in the stock exchange, commercial bribery, bribery of public officials directly or indirectly in order to secure favorable contracts and legislation...”.

Society views such behavior and actions as negative and unacceptable, and yet there’s no real consequences for those who commit any of the deviances listed above(in the business/political world); these deviances aren’t treated like ‘real’ crime. Perhaps the reason such white-collar crime is ignored because it is viewed as necessary to having a functional society. This is based off the views of the French sociologist, Durkheim, which are discussed in the Essentials of Sociology textbook. Sutherland would not be on the same page as Durkheim because he didn’t believe any form of deviance could be functional for society. Sutherland would not agree with the idea of business professionals exploiting their power in order to beat out the competition and get away with it just because it may be ‘functional’ for the company/society. Sutherland would, for the most part, be content with Ritzer’s textbook’s contents if he were still around in present day. This is for a number of reasons, for example he would have agreed with the way crime and deviance is defined in the textbook. He would be content with fact that the textbook speaks on the fact that white-collar crimes compose a majority of the crimes take place today. However, a majority of the book focuses on forms of deviance and crime committed by lower class individuals as a result of their inability to be viewed as equals in society. The textbook focuses on the topic of crime and its relationship with the lower class, while Sutherland focuses on crime and its relationship with the upper/business class.

On the other hand, Sutherland would have most likely not been satisfied completely with the way in which criminology has adapted. This is because criminology today focuses heavily on the lower class and crimes that don’t have a larger impact on society, rather than the white-collar crime of the upper class which has a much larger impact. Lower class crime does not have as much of an impact because it generally only affects the few individuals involved. But white-collar crime involves large companies with multiple employees, and the behavior of these corrupt companies play into how good or bad society is overall. As of recent, crime in the business world is rapidly growing due to not being on the radar of the legal court. Increased competition in the economic world in motivates professional business workers to cheat, “cut corners”, and take any action necessary to gain more power or money. Sutherland would have campaigned for further advancement in criminology; a change where the lower class and upper class are equally investigated and tried.

Overall if Edwin Sutherland were alive today, he would most likely agree with the content of the sociology textbook and its treatment of the topic of crime. It covers the basics/foundations in which he believed in. However, he would most likely not be satisfied with the way criminology has advanced. This is because he would want to eliminate the clear difference in the way upper and lower class crimes are handled; he stressed that business/economic/political crime does not acquire the attention and gravity it requires. Even in his concluding summary he stated, “White-collar criminality differs from lower class criminality principally in an implementation of the criminal law which segregates white-collar criminals administratively from other criminals”. Criminology may have advanced for the better since his time and that may please him a tad, but it still has a long way to go; race, gender, and social class should not still determine whether a crime is taken seriously or essentially ignored. Sutherland would most likely advocate for the justice system to begin holding professional environments, such as the business world, to higher standards so as to decrease the negative impact of criminality on society.

13 January 2020
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