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White-collar offenders and desistance from crime: Future selves and constancy of change

White-collar offenders and desistance from crime: Future selves and constancy of change

Hunter, Ben (2015) White-collar offenders and desistance from crime: Future selves and constancy of change. International Series on Desistance and Rehabilitation . Routledge, London, UK. ISBN 978-1138794092

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This book explores the particular challenges faced by white-collar offenders following punishment. White-collar offenders are a group that have not typically considered by literature concerned with desistance from crime, possibly because the transition for them following punishment is assumed to be easy. The book is laid out as follows:

Chapter 1

This chapter outlines two distinct areas of research: white-collar crime and desistance from crime. These two separate bodies of literature are juxtaposed to highlight the difficulties existing explanations for desistance have at explaining why white-collar offenders stop offending. More recent desistance research – that which privileges the subjective, narrative aspects of desistance from crime and attempts to present oneself as ‘reformed’ – offers a means of exploring the apparent contradiction between the white-collar crime literature and desistance studies and so such work is outlined to show the contribution it may offer to understanding white-collar offenders’ desistance from crime.

Chapter 2:

Chapter two introduces the conceptual framework used to understand white-collar offenders’ attempts to desist from crime, drawing on existential sociology. The chapter starts by summarising existentialist thought and the emphasis on freedom, choice and responsibility as part of existence. The chapter then moves to outline the key tenets that have inspired existential sociological thought, focusing on the importance of the self, values and emotions. Through the interaction of these individuals attribute meaning to their wider social world and identify their place within it. The chapter also draws links between existentialism, existential sociology and criminological thought to date, highlighting the oft-implicit links that criminology has drawn with existentialist foci.

Chapter 3

This chapter explores in detail the use of published autobiographical accounts for researching the lives of offenders. It considers what an autobiography is and what they can contribute to an understanding of the writer’s life. In doing this the chapter considers the issue of ‘truth’ in regards to autobiographical accounts. Advantages of using autobiographical accounts are compared to other forms of qualitative research, while also discussing the potential problems of using such data. The chapter proceeds by outlining the limited number of other criminological studies that have drawn upon published autobiographical accounts before providing a portrait of the sample of white-collar offenders whose autobiographies form the basis of the subsequent analysis.

Chapter 4

Chapter four considers the experience of imprisonment for white-collar offenders. It investigates the important aspects of imprisonment for white-collar offenders and how their experience of imprisonment compares to that of other prisoners. The analysis focuses on how white-collar offenders construed their prison time, and how prison time could be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Explicit within this conception of the way prison time was spent and understood by prisoners was the implication for what this time meant in terms of individuals’ sense of self. A running theme through offenders’ accounts is how prisoners coped with what was happening to them and the contrast between the environment of the prison and the lives they had led prior to incarceration.

Chapter 5

The focus of this chapter is how white-collar offenders came to work out their place in the world following their conviction. It begins by identifying the feelings of anxiety that were present for many prisoners as they considered release from prison and the root of this anxiety. The chapter then considers what the most immediate concerns were for newly released prisoners, how they coped with challenges in the aftermath of release and how they reconciled their expectations of resettlement with the reality. In exploring these topics the chapter identifies how offenders’ understanding of their present was tied to their future and the ‘selves’ they could become.

Chapter 6

This chapter identifies the long-term experiences associated with resettlement for white-collar offenders and identifies how they attempt to move on with their lives following release from prison. Prison had been a serious disruption to the lives of offenders and the chapter identifies how white-collar offenders responded to success and failure in the endeavours they wished to pursue. Reactions to success and failure are considered in terms of anxiety and perspectives on the future and how changes in identity were perceived. The chapter also identifies that whether or not white-collar offenders actively embraced and engaged with prospects for change depended in part on their reflections on their offending.

Chapter 7

Chapter seven is the first of two that outlines in detail specific routes to change that white-collar offenders adopted. It explores the concept of the professional ex, where a previously deviant identity is used as a specific occupational strategy and identifies white-collar offenders who took on professional ex roles. The chapter then moves to detail how professional-ex identities were formed as white-collar offenders drew upon past deviant identities as a means of proceeding with their life. Finally, it compares these white-collar offenders’ professional-ex roles with the way in which professional-ex statuses have been conceptualised more generally.

Chapter 8

Chapter eight analyses change in self within the context of conversion to a religious belief system. The chapter begins by outlining the literature on conversion to religion before proceeding to an exploration of the contribution that conversion to religion has made to the study of desistance and outlining how white-collar offenders came to convert. Religious conversion influenced the meaning offenders placed upon their pasts, particularly with regards to casting past offending in a different light. Besides these ‘internal’ aspects of belief, the chapter explores the social dimensions of religious conversion. New, religiously focused, peer groups helped offenders’ make sense of their experiences and also certified offenders’ change.

Chapter 9

This concluding chapter situates the findings with regard to wider research and explores several questions. Do white-collar offenders’ previous ‘high lives’ make the prison experience more severe for them compared to other offenders? Do their previously successful pasts equip them better for resettlement following prison? Is it more difficult to demonstrate change in who one is (i.e. a change to non-offender) if the life prior to the offence is replete with indications of normalcy? In answering these questions, policy implications will be drawn for the resettlement of offenders more generally.

Item Type: Book
Uncontrolled Keywords: White collar crime; Desistance; Existential sociology
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group (BHRE)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
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Last Modified: 08 Jun 2020 17:09

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