The paper explores the limitations of class instrumentalist analyses of law in accounting for the failure of the criminal justice system to control corporate crime. The first part of the paper examines current theoretical perspectives in Canadian corporate crime research with particular emphasis on the class instrumentalist analyses of law which predominate in the literature. The remainder of the paper seeks to develop a critical analysis of corporate crime which avoids the reductionism of such class instrumentalist analyses. In particular, it is argued that attempts to theorize the failure of the criminal justice system to respond to corporate crime require investigation not only of external factors influencing the enactment and enforcement of legislation, but also of the manner in which ideological discourses are articulated through the form and content of criminal law in such a way as to reproduce the popular consent for the differential treatment of suite and street crime. Failure to problematize the ideological role of criminal law in legitimating the differential treatment of corporate and street crime is likely to undermine attempts to make corporate offenders more accountable for their illegal behaviour by further criminalizing certain types of corporate behaviour.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0829320100001538
Journal Canadian Journal of Law and Society
Citation
Sargent, N. (1989). Law, Ideology and Corporate Crime: A Critique of Instrumentalism. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 4, 39–75. doi:10.1017/S0829320100001538