Crimes of the Rich and Poor: The Need for a Critical Comparative Analysis

Eileen B. Leonard, Vassar College

Working from the perspective of critical criminology, this paper asks us to rethink not only the ways we define crime, but how we as criminologists organize our study and presentation of the field. Treating conventional crime and the crimes of the powerful as separate categories of analysis has serious and detrimental implications. It reinforces stereotypes of crime as the actions of the poort, it hinders a more sociological analysis of crime in general, and it minimizes the underlying role of social inequality in the definition and treatment of criminal offenses. This social inequality includes not only differences of class, but also race and gender. I will also argue that unless we broaden our categories and offer a more comparative analysis of conventional and elite crime, we will continue to be stymied in our efforts to curg the varied forms of crime including conventional crime, domestic violence, and white collar crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006