“Power and Crime,” by Vincenzo Ruggiero explores the relationship ‘between power and crime. Whilst crime is always associated with the powerless in society, the author argues that there are inter-relations between power and crime. Vincenzo analyses drug offences, crimes of the powerful involving corruption and corporate crime. He explores political, social, legal theories and philosophies; which will be further discussed below.
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The introductory Chapter provides an overview and foundation of the relationship between ‘power and crime’. The following chapter addressed ‘criminal classification’ the link between powerful and non-elite criminals. He makes refences to Sutherland, who argues that criminal acts legal or illegal should be regarded as criminal deviance. Chapter 3 explores social theory and its influence on criminology focusing on Durkheim, Weber, Foucault among others. Chapters 4,5 examines classical Greek philosophical debates and its relation to legal philosophies; In addition to hegemony, violence. He suggests some “lead specific areas ignore, justify, or encourage crimes of the elite” (p.68).
The subsequent chapters explore the ‘science of economics ‘, powerful offenders, and political thought. He implies that crimes of the powerful derive from ‘a pecuniary language that translates into predatory desire (p.111). Chapter 7,8 explores Balzac’s understating of the crime of the powerful and the reproductive power structure in society (p.132). The analysis formed from previous chapters contends that when examining crimes of the powerful criminologists should explore other fields such as social, political, economic theories, philosophies, among others (Vincenzo 2013).
Vincenzo (2013) states that crimes involving the use of power can be examined in detail beyond traditional criminologists’ perceptions. The author clarifies that not all crimes are perpetrated by the powerful alone. It further explains that as much crime is associated with powerless to, all situations indicate that the wrongdoer always has an advantage of power. He also argues that offenders, whether powerful or powerless, use power as resource and then return to their normal lives. In most cases, they tend to commit other crimes while enforcing their power.
The idea that power influences crime, in most cases, is a phenomenon being addressed in this book. Vincenzo (2013) states that those in power abuse it and commit crimes that favour their goals. Contending that the powerless also commit crimes but only in cases where they have power as a resource.
Subsequently, apart from case studies, Vincenzo (2013) focuses on quantitative analysis for the methodology of his work. This approach entails gathering of information that describes a phenomenon across a large group of people; making it possible to generalize the characteristics among those individuals. However, he can obtain more opinions and experiences from different audiences for better conclusions.
The relationship between power and crime often results in social instability, lack of peace, and corruption (Vincenzo, 2015). The three are the main themes developed in the book. When the powerful abuse power, corruption is elevated in society because they can access resources by exercising their power.
The strain theory mentioned by Vincenzo (2013) explains how the crime of the powerful may result from a disconnection between the society’s goals and means of achieving them. The theory views the deviant behaviours by the powerful because of a disconnection between them and society’s aspirations (Rosenfeld and Messner, 2013, p.3). Therefore, ‘he argues that the powerful ones are dedicated participants who are attached to the standard bonds of society. When the bonds are broken, they end up committing a crime.
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The argument shows that these powerful offenders always aim at achieving what is expected from them by society. The result of this commitment leads to the use of wrong means. For example, A manager may decide to allow illegal disposing of harmful wastes to avoid expenses. In turn, he saves the extra money which he intends to support his employees. According to this perspective, crime can be justified as an outcome of pressure. Concerning this theory, the weaknesses of the argument have been observed (Vincenzo, 2015). Crime cannot be justified just because of failure to achieve specific goals and succumbing to the pressure. Others have still achieved success through the right means.
Vincenzo’s concept of the inter-relation between power and crime aims at giving criminologists new ways of viewing crime. He claims that intersections between ‘power and crime’ and ‘performance act’ of powerful influencers result in highly harmful activities. He explains that their behaviors are mostly from pressure and not crimes. Criminologists have argued for long about this concept. Edwin Sutherland argues that what the powerful claim to do due to pressure or for the good of the people ‘is just crime’ (Penny and Ward, 2004). Edwin, just like other criminologists, do not support Vincenzo’s idea of power and crime; he argues that if it is against the law, then it is a crime, regardless of the situation.
In conclusion, Vincenzo’s approach to power and crime is compelling. The details he focuses on surpass the traditional criminologist’s perspective. The book is not accepted by all audiences; however, it is considered a great read by many scholars and students due to its comprehensive analysis. He argues that there is a cause behind the crimes that needs to be further analyses by exploring other fields. He dismisses the ‘conventional criminological theory’ arguing that they fail to explain power and crime.
- Rosenfeld, R. and Messner, S.F. (2013). Crime and the Economy. London: Sage.
- South, N. et al. Power Crime. [Online] (updated 2013) Available at <http://www.researchgate.net> [Accessed on Dec. 31, 2018]
- Vincenzo, R. (2013). The Crimes of the Economy: A Criminological Analysis of Economic Thought. London: Routledge.
- Vincenzo, R. (2015). Power and Crime. London: Routledge
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