The motivation to commit crime

Another theory which is worth considering is the general theory of crime presented by Travis Hirschi and Michael Gottfredson in 1990 which focuses on self-control as an answer to criminality. First version of this theory was presented by Hirschi in 1969 where he argued that weak social bonds may lead to criminal behaviour. The second version of this theory was developed with Gottfredson in 1990 and focused more as mentioned above on self-control. Their theory focuses mainly on individual's self-control and combines elements of control and opportunity theory.

From the opportunity theory the idea is taken that the occurrence of crime depends on environment conditions. The presence of attractive and unguarded targets increases the likeliness that the crime will occur. However as it is explained in control theory people can be distinguished to those ones who take advantage of criminal opportunity and those ones who do not. It all depends on their self control. People with low self control are more likely to commit crimes that those ones with high level of self control (Gottfredson, M., Hirschi, T. , 1990).

According to this theory the motivation to commit crime is greed, and desire to pursue pleasure, gratification or gain. This motivation according to Gottfredson and Hirschi comes from low self control. This theory became very popular in the 1990 mainly because it was simple to understand. Its main point that low self control is responsible for criminality can not be argued, however it can not be used to explain all criminal behaviour.

There is not enough evidence that their theory can explain white collar crime. As Benson and Moore argue " many individuals in white collar crime have demonstrated they can cope with delayed gratification- the opposite of low self control- by achieving an advanced education" (Benson and Moore 1992). There is a lot of disagreement over white collar crime. First problem is the definition, the way the term 'white collar crime' is used in criminology shows that it is not clear what kind of crime it refers to.

It may interesting to look at the way how judges define white collar crime. They distinguish this crime from an ordinary street crime by saying that this crime does not necessarily involve force against a person or property; directly relate to the possession, sale, or distribution of narcotics; directly relate to organized crime activities; directly relate to such national policies as immigration, civil rights, and national security; or directly involve "vice crimes" or the common theft of property.

In 1981 the United States Department of Justice described white collar crime as: "non-violent crime for financial gain committed by means of deception by persons whose occupational status is entrepreneurial, professional or semi-professional and utilizing their special occupational skills and opportunities; also, non-violent crime for financial gain utilizing deception and committed by anyone having special technical and professional knowledge of business and government, irrespective of the person's occupation".

In this definition the defendant must be at least "semi professional" or have some " special technical and professional knowledge", however not all white crime criminals are professionals or people with special knowledge and skills (U. S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics). The second problem are the efforts made to explain causes of white collar crime. Many people try to use common criminological theories to explain this kind of crime, while others use this topic to put these theories in doubt.

Another problem is the discussion about the commission of white collar crimes; some writers say that these crimes take place in more respectable settings than ordinary crimes and that it is a result of more ambiguous intentions than by other crimes. Also the regulation and handling of white collar crime is different than in the case of ordinary crimes. It is often controlled in a different way, and it causes a discussion on how much this reflects or even creates its ambiguity.

The fact that the status of white collar crimes is uncertain may also reflect the process of social change where people are not ready for more criminalization of this kind of crime (Nelken, 2007). Modern criminology generally rejects a limitation of the term by reference to type of crime. The topic is now divided by the type of offence (for example property crime, economic crime or other types of corporate crimes such as environmental or health and safety), by the type of offender (for example by social class, status, profession or academic qualification), and by organisational culture.

As it can be seen from this essay the problem of white collar crime is widespread and complicated. There has not been enough space here to explain this problem more exact, and only main points and theories are mentioned in this essay. There a lot of issues which make it difficult to understand this phenomenon. Starting from the problem in defining the problem and ending on the issues of dealing with it. There are countries where this type of crime is not included in the official statistics what makes it difficult to see how big the problem actually is.

The biggest issue of all is however the definition. If a problem can not be properly defined then it is very difficult or almost impossible to deal with it. The differences in approaching the subject also do not help it. Criminological and Psychological approaches are so different from each other trying to explain the same phenomenon. Those experts should probably sit together and develop one general definition of white collar crime and that would be a good start to deal with this problem.