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					  Criminal opportunities

Criminal opportunities are
arrangements or situations
that offer potential for
criminal reward with little
apparent risk of detection or
penalty (Coleman 1987)
      White collar crime – the
      criminally predisposed
Tempted individuals possess qualities or
experiences that make them more likely than
peers who lack these distinctions to weigh the
exploitation of lure.
The supply of predisposed organizations and
tempted individuals varies temporally and
The most striking revolution of the
twentieth century was the rapid
expansion of the population of
organizations. In the United States the
number grew fivefold between 1917 and
1969, and in the past three decades alone
it tripled. As a result the population of
profit, non-profit and governmental
organizations in the United States rival in
number the population of individuals
     Characteristics of individuals sentenced for federal street crimes and
                white collar crimes, United States, 1995-2002
Characteristics             Street offenders            white collar offenders

Race (percent African
American and Hispanic)      48.5                        32.3
Gender (percent male)       92.8                        72.7
Less than high school       38.6                        17.1
High school graduate        39.7                        28.7
Some college                18.4                        30.2
College graduate            2.8                         19.5
Under 21                    10.4                        1.6
21-30                       41.8                        24.6
31-40                       29.1                        29.4
41-50                       15.7                        25.0
50+                         31.8                        44.2
Average age                 31.8                        44.2
Average number of cases
Annually                    2.600                       8.205
      Working class criminals
White collar crime generally is not committed
by working class criminals.
The work performed by the working classes is
unlike worked performed by those situated
higher in the class structure
Much of the work done by working class citizens is
physically hazardous or mind numbing. Normally
they work under the direct supervision of and on
schedules constructed by others.
Subordination is one of the most important
distinguishing characteristics of working-class
Most workers share a common status, and prospects
for upward mobility are limited in any case.
Not surprisingly also, in their work worlds those
who work too rapidly or maintain distance from
co-workers in hopes of being noticed by
superiors are derided as “rate busters” or
“company men.
One does not want to give the impression of
being too eager or of trying too hard. (Dunk,
“In the factories I’ve worked in, if you talk
down to another worker you can expect to be
“punched out”. The basic operating procedure
of academia and graduate school …..are based
on competitive game playing, which in
working class setting would make you an
outcast…. In my previous work environments
this type of behaviour had specific names:
“brown nosing” and so on ….. The modus
operandi among middle-class careerists is
based on competition.” (Langston 1993)
In competitive cultures, people generally
evaluate personal success in terms of wealth
and material possessions. Competition need
not be economic, however. Establishing or
maintaining respect by peers for exceptional
achievement is priority for many, but humans
compete for attention from superiors,
assignments, and career advancement.
At each new level of my career, I had pushed my
goals higher. When I was an associate, I wanted to
be a vice president. When I became a vice president,
I wanted to be a senior vice president …. When I was
earning $20.000 a year, I thought, I can make $
100.000 ….. When I was making a $ 1 million, I
thought I can make $ 3 million. There was always
somebody one rung higher on the ladder, and I could
never stop wondering: is he really twice as good as I
am? Ambition eclipsed rationally. I was unable to
find fulfilment in realistic limits … The hours grew
longer, the numbers grew bigger, the stakes grew
more critical, the fire grew even hotter
I think I was arrogant enough at the time to
believe that I could cut corners. Not care
about details that were going on and not think
about consequences. One of my great faults is
– I refused to deal with everyday details that
people have to deal with to make sure that
mistakes aren’t made. And I think, in that
way, there may have been arrogance where I
didn’t have to deal with details – that these
details were meant for other people, not for
me (Waksal, 2003)
At Enron corporation management policies required
each year that employees be evaluated on a forced
curve so that 15 percent would receive performance
ratings of unacceptable (Cruver, 2002). The
pervasive insecurity generated in competitive
environments like this provides powerful
motivational pushes towards misconduct.
Desire to be the former is fuelled in part by fear of
becoming the latter
Suffice it to say any annual ranking that
plummeted you lower than your previous
assessment gave many people a reason to
start a course of antidepressants or switch
from beer to Bourbon. A reduction in your
ranking status would affect your salary, your
self-esteem, your standing among your peers,
and, worse of all, your bonus. Once wounded
with an “issues” ranking, like a stricken
animal in a herd, other employees would
begin to shun you as you might draw lions”
(Brewer, 2002)

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