Criminal Actors: Natural Persons and Collectivities

  • Albert K. Cohen
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


This chapter deals with the theoretical issues that are raised by the fact that collectivities are actors and produce criminal and deviant acts. They are those actors to which individual human beings or “natural persons” are related as ‘‘members”; the members are seen to “belong to” the collectivities. Like other actors, collectivities have names and reputations. We love them, hate them, admire them, and resent them. They range from families and ball teams to nation-states. Some of the things they do are deviant. Some of the things some of them do are crimes. (Some of them cannot commit crimes for the same reason that some natural persons—e.g., idiots, infants, and the insane—cannot commit crimes: The law says they can’t, and crime is what the law says it is. The law can, of course, change its mind in these matters, and may be of a different mind in different jurisdictions.)


Criminal Actor Structural Frame Natural Person Moral Attitude Criminal Sanction 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert K. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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