The scope of crimes of the powerful are vast and by far outnumbers ‘street crime’, yet scholars and students of criminology and criminal justice and other related fields, as well as politicians and the media, overall neglect to give any sustained attention to crimes of power and the powerful. Crimes of the powerful are immersed within the trajectory of neo-liberal economic policies and globalization. Whether we focus on corporations, transnational corporations, international financial institutions, states or regimes, organized crime syndicates, or the powerful elite that hold positions in multiple institutions and situations or wield enormous political influence, their decision-making, policies, and actions are all within the parameters set by the broader structure. This structure currently emphasizes privatization, open markets, deregulation of corporations, and transfusion of economic policies and culture from the Global North to the South. Simply, the gravest harms and crimes are all wrapped up in larger systems of economics, politics, and social order and can be understood as interdependent and multi-directional. This means that the organizing themes of political economy in the modern world are based on activities like the constant drive for profit, the buying off and corruption of political systems, and the disproportionately powerful driving most aspects of law, justice, and social policy. To understand crimes of the powerful then means to understand them as epi-phenomenal, or outcomes of broader economic and political relationships both domestically and internationally. We like to think that promotion of greater attention to such phenomena is as, if not more, important than the overwhelming focus on street crime.

Goal: Our goal is to provide a platform for networking, researching, and promoting attention to the vast instances of crimes of the powerful. We aim to provide some insight into the crimes of the powerful, and to try to disabuse the commonly held belief that these crimes are not as systematic, costly, violent, or harmful as those we hear about with every local and national newscast focusing on the dangerous street criminal or the ‘others’.

Affiliations: Eastern Kentucky University, College of Justice and Safety Management, School of Justice Studies

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The Crimes of the Powerful Centre