Sociology Index

BLUE-COLLAR CRIME

Occupational Crime, Conventional Crime

Blue-collar crime is any crime committed by an individual from a lower social class as opposed to White-Collar Crime which is associated with crime committed by individuals of a higher social class. Women are more likely to commit low level pink-collar crime such as check kiting from positions of less power. There may be more white-collar crime than blue collar crime. Blue-collar crime tends to be more obvious and attract more active police attention such as for crimes such as vandalism or shoplifting which protect property interests, whereas white-collar employees can intermingle legitimate and criminal behavior and be less obvious when committing the crime.

Blue-collar crime will more often use physical force whereas in the corporate world, the identification of a victim is less obvious and the issue of reporting is complicated by a culture of commercial confidentiality to protect shareholder value. Blue-collar crime also refers to police slang for an arrest of a suspect, or collar. Blue-collar crimes are those that involve local police known for wearing blue, and white-collar crimes are those involving Federal agents, such as FBI who typically wear suits and ties with white shirts. The blue-collar worker in the United States is an embodiment of the American work ethic and the dignity of labor. A member of the working class blue-collar worker performs manual labor and earns an hourly wage. Some blue-collar jobs, such as those of janitors and unskilled laborers, may carry negative stereotype from perceptions that they represent minimal ability.

Blue-collar work may be skilled or unskilled, and may involve manufacturing, mining, building and construction trades. Blue-collar is derived from 19th century uniform dress codes of industrial workplaces. According to the sourcebook of criminal justice, 10,700 persons were charged with the blue collar crime of embezzlement in the United States in 2002. A review of the literature reveals that more is known about blue-collar crimes like burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft than white-collar crime, even though the latter may have a much greater economic impact on society.

Perceptions of Blue-Collar and White-Collar Crime: The Effect of Defendant Race on Simulated Juror Decisions - R A Gordon ; T A Bindrim ; M L McNicholas ; Teresa L Walden
An equal number of black and white students was randomly assigned to receive one of four crime descriptions that varied in terms of defendant race (black or white) and the type of crime (burglary or embezzlement) committed. Burglary was chosen as a blue-collar crime and embezzlement as a white-collar crime. The authors hypothesized that a black defendant who committed a blue-collar crime would be judged more harshly than a white defendant accused of the same crime.