The Corporate Criminal: Why Corporations Must Be Abolished, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Corporate Criminal

Why Corporations Must Be Abolished, 1st Edition

By Steve Tombs, David Whyte


216 pages

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Drawing upon a wide range of sources of empirical evidence, historical analysis and theoretical argument, this book shows beyond any doubt that the private, profit-making, corporation is a habitual and routine offender.  The book dissects the myth that the corporation can be a rational, responsible, 'citizen'.  It shows how in its present form, the corporation is permitted, licensed and encouraged to systematically kill, maim and steal for profit.   Corporations are constructed through law and politics in ways that impel them to cause harm to people and the environment.  In other words, criminality is part of the DNA of the modern corporation.  Therefore, the authors argue, the corporation cannot be easily reformed.  The only feasible solution to this 'crime' problem is to abolish the legal and political privileges that enable the corporation to act with impunity.


Few academic books demand the kind of critical attention that The Corporate Criminal demands.

This is surely the most powerful and compelling critique of the corporation ever written. Tombs and Whyte pull no punches in this arrestingly accessible but scholarly book. Their argument is simple – its legal and historical construction is such that the resulting corporation is endemically criminogenic and thus beyond reform. Their conclusion is utterly persuasive, ‘the goal of corporate opposition must be the abolition of the corporation’ - Penny Green is Professor of Law and Globalisation and Director of the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, UK

Tombs and Whyte provide a brilliant, unflinching and original account of corporate power in neoliberal capitalism. Their careful analysis – rich in both empirical and theoretical insights - convincingly reveals that corporations cannot balance economic progress with social welfare, but also that the only effective corrective is to disassemble the corporate form. This superb book is a must read for anyone wishing to understand how and why corporations have come to define and destroy our daily lives, and what do about it. – Susanne Soederberg, Queen’s University, Canada

It is clear that today, everyone is aware of the devastating effects of corporate capitalism on the environment, global inequality, and various other aspects of our societies and daily lives. What is utterly refreshing about Tombs and Whyte’s book, is the realisation that none of these effects can be mitigated by legal reform or neoliberal regimes such as ‘corporate social responsibility’. What is needed is a revolution in our thinking about, and action towards, corporate capitalism, and Tombs and Whyte’s call to ‘bring down the corporation’ deserves to be carried far and wide. - Grietje Baars, The City Law School, City University London.

This book offers readers a provocative brief for the case that corporations are in fact not a sustainable enterprise, and that their inherently criminal and criminogenic nature must be fully recognized.— David O. Friedrichs, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books (Rutgers University)

Table of Contents

1. Introducing The Corporate Criminal 2. Crime, Harm And The Corporation 3. Constructing The Corporation 4. The Corporation As Structured Irresponsibility 5. Controlling The Corporation? 6. Conclusion. What is to be done about the corporate criminal?

About the Authors

Steve Tombs is Professor of Criminology at the Open University. He has a long-standing interest in the incidence, nature and regulation of corporate crime. He works closely with the Hazards movement in the UK, and is a Trustee and Board member of Inquest.

David Whyte is Professor of Socio-legal Studies at the University of Liverpool where he teaches and does research on the relationship between law, politics and corporate power. He works closely with Corporate Watch and is a member of the executive committee of the Institute of Employment Rights.

About the Series

Key Ideas in Criminology

Key Ideas in Criminology explores the major concepts, issues, debates and controversies in criminology. The series provides authoritative essays on central topics within the broader area of criminology. Each book adopts a strong individual ‘line’, constituting original essays rather than literature surveys and offers lively and agenda setting treatments of their subject matter.

These books will appeal to students, teachers and researchers in criminology, sociology, social policy, cultural studies, law and political science.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology