Crime-Catalyzing Places: The Role of Legitimate Enterprise in the Creation of Deviance

John P. Wright, University of Cincinnati
John Eck, University of Cincinnati

It has long been established that opportunity structures allow individual traits to exhibit deviant acts. Only in the presence of such opportunity structures can propensities result in deviant behavior. What is the origin of these opportunity structures and how do they interact with individual characteristics to produce crime? These questions are the subject of this paper. Using a diverse set of examples we will develop a framework that integrates theories of criminality, theories of crime places, and theories of white-collar crime. We suggest that under certain conditions legitimate organizations create crime catalytic environments. A catalyst is a substance that increases the speed of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the reaction. Crime catalytic environments behave in this manner and may be responsible for crime patterns and crime hot spots.

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Updated 05/20/2006