Categories that are Used in Criminology

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Abstract

This short essay will explore the four major categories that are used in helping classify crime. It will define the four categories based on the readings assigned in class, as well as research done outside of what was assigned. It will look into what things help define and differentiate these categories. This paper will study the issues and develop conclusions based on the evidence found in the readings and research as well as the impact the issues have on the police community.

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Introduction

Crime is a social and economic phenomenon and is as old as our society. It is a legal concept, so is a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which could possibly result in punishment. Many types of crime exist. When classifying crime, there are four categories that are used by criminologists to do so. These four categories are conventional crime, white-collar crime, cyber-crime, organized crime and victimless crime. When classifying crime into these four categories, there are many characteristics that are looked at to help. All of these categories have massive financial, social, and physical costs.

Conventional Crime

The first category of crime is conventional crime. Conventional crimes are illegal behaviors that most people think of as crime. Most crime is considered as conventional crime. Conventional crimes are divided into two categories; property crimes and violent crimes. While the most common of the two are property crimes, violent crimes are the ones people tend to fear the most. Conventional crime includes murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, and theft. Property crime does not involve physical harm, but it still makes people have cause for concern.

Although property crime has in fact declined along with violent crime over the last thirty years, it still is considered a major component of the crime problem, because it is so common and produces losses of billions of dollars annually. To help prevent property crime many people now equip their homes, shops, buildings, etc. with alarms and other high-tech security measures.

Research on violent crime tends to concentrate mainly on homicide, rape and sexual assault as well. The taking of a human life, or homicide is considered the most serious crime. The data collected on homicides are considered more accurate than the data recorded for other crimes because most homicides are brought to the attention of the police and are more likely than other crimes to lead to an arrest.

White-collar and Cyber-crime

White-collar and cyber-crime are the second category when classifying crime. So, what exactly is white-collar crime? By definition, white-collar crime is “crime that typically involves stealing money from a company and that is done by people who have important positions in the company,” (Merriam-Webster). Sociologist Edwin Sutherland was the first one to introduce the idea of white-collar crime. “White-collar crime was important to criminology because it showed that people from other than the lower classes violate the law, even if they are rarely convicted in criminal court,” (Conklin). White-collar crimes are categorized by deception, cover-ups, or abuse of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind this type of crime is financial, to gain or evade losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.

Cyber-crime is another category of crime. “Cyber-crime is any crime committed in the electronic environment of linked computer networks,” (Conklin). In cyber-crime the threats are identity theft, computer and network intrusions, and online predators just to name a few. Scammers these days seem to have more information than one would feel comfortable with them knowing. They can call you and know your full name and address, and just need you to confirm your social security number. They even pose as the company you bank with, and say your credit card you had through them is past due and they need payment immediately. “Another kind of Internet fraud is “phishing,” the practice of sending phony e-mails that are purportedly from legitimate Internet Service Providers, online merchants, or banks. These e-mails ask recipients to provide a password, a bank account, or credit card number, or other information, which the thieves use to defraud the victim,” (Conklin).

Organized Crime

The mafia is probably the first thing to come to one’s mind when they hear the words organized crime. “Organized crime is criminal activity by an enduring structure devoted primarily to the pursuit of profits through illegal means,” (Conklin). Usually, organized crime is associated with the mafia in the United States, but has been broadened to other ethnic groups within the last few years. In some ways, organized crime can affect the nation’s economic output. It can affect the per capita income, decrease the number of jobs, and raise consumer prices. “The activities of organized crime also have social costs. One essential element of organized crime is the corruption of public officials and police officers who allow gangsters to operate. Reports of such corruption can erode faith in the government and even cause people to pursue careers other than politics,” (Conklin).

Victimless Crime

Victimless crime is the last category used to classify crime, but is it really victimless as its name suggests? “A victimless crime is an offense that is consensual and lacks a complaining participant (Schur, 1965; Meier and Geis, 1997). Victimless crimes might better be called crimes without complainants, because some people have questioned the idea that there are no victims of crimes such as the sale and use of illegal drugs, gambling, and prostitution,” (Conklin). Couldn’t this idea be argued, though? If your spouse is doing illegal drugs, or gambling, won’t that affect you as well and even your family? In the end, someone will always end up hurting, so it doesn’t seem as though the name is fitting.

Conclusion

When classifying crime, there are four categories that are used by criminologists to do so. These four categories are conventional crime, white-collar crime, cyber-crime, organized crime and victimless crime. Conventional crimes are divided into two categories; property crimes and violent crimes. White-collar crime involves someone lower on the totem pole so to speak, taking money from someone that has more power. Cyber-crime is similar to that of conventional crime, but it is done strictly online. Organized crime refers to groups of people that only exist for the sole purpose of breaking the law. Victimless crime is the last category. Victimless crimes include things as drugs or gambling. “A victimless crime is an offense that is consensual and lacks a complaining participant (Schur, 1965; Meier and Geis, 1997)”, (Conklin).

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Categories That Are Used In Criminology. (2021, Apr 09). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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