Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 48, Issue 1–2, pp 43–55 | Cite as

State crimes and state harms: a tale of two definitional frameworks

  • Rick A. Matthews
  • David Kauzlarich


Criminologists have long debated the issue of how to define crime, and hence, the scope of criminological inquiry. For years, some critical criminologists have argued for expanded definitions of crime that include harmful behaviors of the state that may not be officially defined as criminal. Other critical criminologists have argued that existing legal frameworks may be used to study varieties of state crime, and that defining the harmful actions of the state as criminal is important to help mobilize public support for their control. In this paper, we first trace the historical development of these two perspectives, and then offer a tentative solution to the seeming tension between these two perspectives.


State Crime Corporate Crime Critical Criminologist Social Harm Street Crime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carthage CollegeKenoshaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice StudiesSouthern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsvilleUSA

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