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Religion and the Acceptability of White-Collar Crime: A Cross-National Analysis


  • Acknowledgments: An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Milwaukee. We would like to thank Randall Collins, Steven Pfaff, Ross L. Matsueda, Robert Crutchfield, Marion Goldman, James A. Kitts, James K. Wellman, Trey Causey, and Jason Wollschleger for their valuable feedback on earlier drafts.

Katie E. Corcoran, Department of Sociology, University of Washington, 211 Savery Hall, Box 353340, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail:


This article examines whether shared religious beliefs and religious social relationships (Durkheim) and belief in a personal, moral God (Stark) negatively affect attitudes toward the acceptability of white-collar crime. In addition, using a large cross-national sample and estimating multilevel models, we test whether effects are conditional on modernization and religious contexts characterized by belief in an impersonal or amoral God. Shared religious beliefs and the importance of God in one's life are negatively related to the acceptability of white-collar crime. These effects, however, weaken in religious contexts characterized by belief in an impersonal or amoral God as do the effects of religious social relationships and belonging to a religious organization; modernization, on the other hand, does not have a moderating effect. In short, religious belief is associated with lower acceptance of white-collar crime and certain types of religious contexts condition this relationship.

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