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Crime, Law and Social Change. Volume 28, Issue 2 (1997), p. 155-172.




The intention of this paper is to serve in part as a warning to the international community concerned about corruption, to keep the focus based on the critical analysis of empirically verifiable information. In ways similar to how theorists spoke about organized crime in the 1960's and 1970's, articles today attempt to refer to corruption as if there were one agreed upon definition. However, like the concept “organized crime”, the term “corruption” involves diverse processes which have different meanings within different societies. Corruption (or a focus on corruption), may be the means toward very diverse ends and each may have a different impact on the society. While in some societies corruption may correctly be seen to be the “cause” of forms of social disorganization, in other situations corruption may be the “result” of larger changes. Understanding the processes within a specific context allows one to understand the nature of the corruption. Corruption rhetoric may too easily become apolitical platform for ranking and evaluating nations as to their worth based on criteria that lose meaning when applied across jurisdictions.

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