Occupational Crime, Occupational Deviance, and Workplace Crime: Sorting Out the Differences

David O. Friedrichs, University of Scranton

The concept of occupational crime has been quite familiar and widely invoked since the publication of Clinard and Quinney's (19967); 1973) influential Criminal Behavior Systems: A Typology. In the recent era, however, the term occupational crime has been applied to activities quite removed from the original meaning of white collar crime, and it has been used interchangeably with such terms as occupational deviance and workplace crime. In the interest of greater conceptual clarity within the field of white collar crime the argument is made here for restricting the terms occupational crime to illegal and unethical activities committed for individual financial gain - or to avoid financial loss - in the context of a legitimate occupation; the term occupational deviance is better reserved for deviation from occupational norms (e.g., drinking on the job; sexual harassment), and the term workplace crime is better reserved for conventional forms of crime committed in the workplace (e.g., rape; assault). A typological scheme is used to demonstrate the validity of the case made in this paper. The conflation of fundamentally dissimilar activities hinders progress in white collar crime scholarship and research.

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Updated 05/20/2006