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Political corruption as deviant behavior

Updated on April 3, 2011

Is political corruption a deviant behavior or just criminal corruption of power?


 White Collar and Governmental Deviance

   “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

   Open any newspaper today and find dozens of instances where elected officials and white-collar executives of Fortune 500 companies have corrupted their authority for their own purposes - some times just for greedy personal gain.  But what is a white-collar crime, or an active of official misconduct - as it is often called?

   White collar crime is defined not only as crime committed by white collar workers, but crime committed because of the criminals white collar status and access to the mean with which to commit the crime through his or her occupation.  So political officials and business executives not only have the desire, but the method and means to take advantage of the system for their own ends.

   Corporate deviance, defined as acts committed by a group in the form of a corporation, is often committed again the very employees, customers, the government or the environment for whom the corporation is charged with care.    

   Occupational deviance can also occur in the form of employee theft, embezzlement or financial fraud.  White collar crime differs from other crimes for a variety of reasons including society’s apparent lack of indignation and the offender’s overt image as an upstanding community member.

    White collar crime also seems motivated by different reasons than other deviant acts.  White collar criminals are not reaching for goals they feel are otherwise unattainable but instead use criminal means as a way to alleviate the fear of losing what they have already attained. Or they become flush with their success and strive for more, using unscrupulous means to fulfill their greedy aspirations.

   Also included is political deviance.  However, unlike other forms of deviance, politicians sometimes find ways to neutralize deviant acts or at least deflect responsibility for them. One such case is the current ongoing second trial of former impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who claimed political favors in turn for campaign contributions were just a means of doing business.

   The media today provides plenty of examples of politicians denying what they obviously have done; ignoring accusations by simply making themselves unavailable to the media, accusing those who have made accusations of having secret motives, or making vague promises to change the system without taking any actual action.


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