Challenging Empire: Toward a Criminology of Corporate State Harms

Ronald C. Kramer, Western Michigan University

In the pursuit of empire, the U.S. corporate state engages in many acts that cause various forms of social harm. Criminology can make a unique contribution to the project of challenging empire by studying these harms. As Bill Chambliss has argued: "If we begin our work today by researching and analyzing state crimes--we will be on the cutting edge of a revitalized science. If we fail to do so, we will have little relevance to the world of the 21st century" (SSSP Newsletter, Winter 1995). If our discipline is to have relevance in the coming years it must examine the harms committed by the corporate state. The traditional range of criminological questions can be applied to these harmful acts. What is the nature and extent of the harsm that corporations and the state engage in? What laws apply to these harms? Why are some of these harms called "crimes" while most are not? What theoretical explanations can we offer for these harms? How can the harms of the corporate state be prevented or controlled? By researching and analyzing these harms criminologists can contribute to the social movements that are challenging corporate led globalization and the emergent forms of the American empire.

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Updated 05/20/2006