Organized and Corporate Crime in Europe: Offers that Can't Be Refused
Vincenzo Ruggiero
Aldershot et al.: Dartmouth, 1996
186 p.

Subject, Methods, Database:
A treatise on the relation between organized crime and corporate crime based on a variety of case studies. Data were collected from various sources, including the authors extensive research on drug markets in Italy and Great Britain.

Ruggiero argues that the distinction between white-collar crime and organized crime is unwarranted. Instead, it is a matter of degree to what extent economically motivated offenders are involved in the legal as well as in the illegal spheres of economy. Both spheres are characterized by a division of labor between planning, on the one hand, and execution by skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers, on the other. In both spheres, crime seems one of the options offered to individuals who are faced with a structure of opportunities arising from both the legal and the illegal arenas. Each official position occupied in society, Ruggiero maintains, seems to entail possibilities to alter or escape such a position through the adoption of a set of illegal practices, depending on status and income. Factors which serve the purpose of conducting legitimate business may also serve to promote unlawful behavior. Ruggiero concludes that wealth, rather than poverty, causes crime.

The arbitrary distinction between white-collar crime and organized crime has been criticized before with a lot of blame being put on Edwin Sutherland. Ruggiero does a good job of clearing Sutherland's name and laying out a comprehensive conceptual framework for analysing all varieties of economic crime, be they committed by seemingly legitimate business people or by offenders that better fit the gangster stereotype. The many cases Ruggiero presents serve as a good illustration of the point he is trying to make, though at times the data base seems a little thin to really come to far-reaching conclusions.

Overall Evaluation:
A fundamental critique of the conventional distinction between corporate and organized crime based on an instructive review of organized-crime and economic theory and on an informative selection of more and (sometimes) less intensely researched case studies.

Further Reading:
Ruggiero, Vincenzo, Criminals and service providers: Cross-national dirty economies, Crime, Law and Social Change, 28(1), 1997, 27-38.
Ruggiero, Vincenzo, Crime and Markets: Essays in Anti-Criminology, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2000.

© Klaus von Lampe, all rights reserved.