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Exiting an offender role: white-collar offenders’ sense of self and the demonstration of change

Exiting an offender role: white-collar offenders’ sense of self and the demonstration of change

Hunter, Benjamin W. (2022) Exiting an offender role: white-collar offenders’ sense of self and the demonstration of change. In: Scott, Susie and Hardie-Bick, James, (eds.) Ex-treme Identities and Transitions Out of Extraordinary Roles. Social Sciences . Palgrave Macmillan - Springer Nature, London and Cham, pp. 37-57. ISBN 978-3030936075; 3030936074 (doi:

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Following punishment at the hands of the criminal justice system, offenders often struggle with resettling successfully and leaving crime behind. Part of this involves demonstrating that they have desisted from crime and are in fact ‘ex’ offenders. Here, I focus on a subset of offenders by considering the experiences of those convicted of white-collar offences, recounted through autobiographical writing and informed by the extant literature of their experiences of punishment and resettlement. For white-collar offenders, the experience of punishment often stands in stark contrast to the lives they led prior to entering the criminal justice system, which challenges self-perception through forced association with criminal others, perhaps best exemplified by the experience of prison. Potentially more difficult however is their experience of community reactions to their offending. Upon contact with the community – whether during or after punishment – white-collar offenders find their perceptions of self challenged. Frequently denying any intent to offend, they may resent having to submit to scrutiny of their whereabouts or being denied opportunities to pick up their lives where they left off through being barred from their previous profession. They struggle with simultaneously demonstrating that they are in fact ‘ex’ offenders while also denying the presence of the offender status in the first place. I consider that white-collar offenders potentially face an unusual challenge compared to other offenders in demonstrating that change has taken place. This is because many of the trappings traditionally associated with successful transition to ex-offender status – including finding employment and forming a stable romantic partnership – are unavailable as markers of change because white-collar offenders are typically in possession of these at the time of their offending. This possibly explains the efforts some go to via engagement in quite grand gestures to demonstrate that change has taken place.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: role exit; identity; desistance from crime
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 12:13

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