The research reported in this paper was supported by the United Kingdom Economic & Social Research Council (Grant R000236020). We would like to thank Harriette Marshall, Jim Messerschmidt, Robert Bursik, and the anonymous Criminology reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts.
SNAKES AND LADDERS: UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS MALE OFFENDERS TALK ABOUT ECONOMIC CRIME*
Version of Record online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 441–466, May 2001
How to Cite
WILLOTT, S., GRIFFIN, C. and TORRANCE, M. (2001), SNAKES AND LADDERS: UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS MALE OFFENDERS TALK ABOUT ECONOMIC CRIME. Criminology, 39: 441–466. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2001.tb00929.x
Sara Willott is a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University. Her main interest is in the exploration of masculine identities. She has particularly focused on men whose gender identity was potentially threatened, the long-term unemployed, and men convicted of economic crime. This research has been published in Feminism and Psychology and The British Journal of Social Psychology.
Christine Griffin is a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Her main research interests include young people's experiences and representations of youth and adolescence in the academic and popular domains; sexuality and gender relations, including constructions of masculinity; and the use of qualitative methods in critical social psychology. She has published widely in these and related areas and is the author of Typical Girls? (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985), and Representations of Youth (Polity Press, 1993). She is also a founding editor of the international Journal, Feminism and Psychology.
Mark Torrance is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University. Originally trained in social psychology, he maintains an active interest in discourse analytic methodology. His main focus of research is the psychology of text production.
- Issue online: 7 MAR 2006
- Version of Record online: 7 MAR 2006
This paper explores the ways in which male offenders in professional-status occupations prior to conviction construct and justify money-related crime. We report a detailed analysis, based in grounded theory and critical social-psychological discourse analysis, of a loosely-structured group interview with four offenders. The men constructed justifications for their offenses in terms of “breadwinning” for their immediate family and economic responsibility toward their extended “family” of employees and creditors. They represented their post-conviction decline in social status as being “dragged down” by envious “boys” in the state apparatus. They positioned themselves on moral high ground, despite having been inappropriately sent to the working class world of prison (“Dante's Inferno”). We contrast these accounts with those of less privileged male offenders.