White-Collar Crimes of the Financial Crisis

Spencer Headworth, John L Hagan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the elite individual and corporate actors whose actions precipitated the collapse largely escaped criminal prosecution. While not all of these actions were illegal, many were, and these actions were potentially subject to criminal charges. Despite the significant public harm associated with these actions, civil penalties have been the preferred instrument of formal social control deployed in response to the crisis, with only one Wall Street Executive receiving prison time. This is in contrast to the general contemporary tendency toward criminalization of street crime. This chapter explores the complex causal structure underlying the non-criminalization of lawbreaking connected to the crisis, including the intersecting structural and agentic forces leading to the behaviors in question, collective definitions of these actions, and the roles played by the arrangements and interconnections of organizational, market, and legal systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of White-Collar Crime
EditorsShanna R Van Slyke, Michael L Benson, Francis T Cullen
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199925513
StatePublished - 2016


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