Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Capitalism and White-Collar Crime
Michael L. Benson & Erin Harbinson
Capitalism is an extraordinarily complex term that applies to a diversity of phenomena. As Michel Beaud and others have noted, it is both a body of social practices and a way of thinking that has ethical and ideological dimensions. As a body of social practices, capitalism has taken many different forms in different countries. Despite its diversity of form, variants of certain basic features are usually found in capitalist societies. Under capitalism, each individual owns his or her own labor and can sell it for wages to an employer. The means of production, called capital (materials, land, tools and such), are privately owned. Owners of the means of production are capitalists. They can be individuals, private corporations, or other types of organizational entities. Capitalists compete with one another for profits in a market economy by manipulating labor and the means of production using rational calculations. As a way of thinking, ...