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Economic Crime: Theory - Advantages Of The Neoclassical Approach

crimes study capital concepts

The neoclassical approach offers several challenges to alternative theories of crime. First, it simplifies the search for motives by assuming that self-interest guides all behaviors, criminal and otherwise. Second, it removes distinctions between offenders and nonoffenders, and reminds us that when we examine economic crime we must remember that "the greatest exponents of criminality in business are [often] business people" (Reuvid, p. 561). Third, it is generalizable: although most researchers used the theory to study crimes that provided a material return, the theory did not distinguish crimes by types and is as applicable to murder as it is to theft (Becker, 1976). Fourth, it unifies a group of materially based crimes that are often treated as distinct (e.g., common "street crimes" such as prostitution and breaking and entering, and white-collar offenses such as stock fraud and money laundering). Fifth, it introduces an array of economic concepts and approaches that enhance the study of crime. Several scholars study the extent to which decisions to offend resemble legal employment decisions, as well as the inter-connections between illegal and legal "work" (Ehrlich; Fagan and Freeman). Others use ideas about market forces to examine how internal and external market conditions influence crime (see Fagan and Freeman). And some writers add economic concepts to more sociological or psychological oriented theories. For example, Hagan, Gillis, and Simpson introduce propensity for risk-taking in their power-control theory of crime; Sampson and Laub address the consequences of conventional human and social capital in their life-course theory of offending; and Hagan and McCarthy focus on the effects of criminal capital in their capital theory of crime.

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