Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Corruption is the abuse of a public trust. It most often occurs between a member of a society's upper class or elites and a public official. This makes it difficult to combat with traditional measures of the criminal law. Corruption practices change over time as the patterns of public life and governance change. Accordingly, the concept of corruption has adjusted through evolution in the moral sense of public opinion. This dynamic, intangible, and value-based character of the concept makes the static, official recording of statistics on the subject inappropriate. Sociologists should look at corruption as an element of actual social reality, trying to understand the wider structure of social institutions within which corruption plays important social functions. It is difficult to discuss corruption, since its very existence is a matter of political controversy. No national leaders boast about the prevalence of corruption in their societies, but its historical and cultural ...