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White-collar Criminals versus Blue-collar Criminals:

By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)

Basic human needs require every human being to do something in their life for their livelihood in order to survive. For doing so, people have to adopt some sort of job(s) as their professions. This has led to a classification of jobs to be divided into various categories as professions and vocations. Jobs, professions and vocations are categorized on the basis of different elements and factors. The most common terms used for performing various jobs, works and professions are described, as follows:

Classification of Jobs on the Basis of Professionalism:

Professionalism has been defined by Wehmeier (2000: p.1010) as “the high standard that you expect from a person who is well trained in a particular job”. In the context of professionalism, jobs have been classified as ‘professional’ and ‘non-professional’. They are described one by one in the following lines:

Professional Jobs: Similarly, the word, professional is connected with a job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education. Professional means that somebody is well trained and extremely skilled. A person who does a job that needs special training and a high level of education is said to be professional.

Nonprofessional Jobs: A non-professional job has been defined by Wehmeier (2000:p.862), as “A job that does not need a high level of education or special training”.

Classification of Skilled-Workers: Skilled workers have been classified and divided by following categories:
Highly-Skilled Workers: A highly-skilled worker is an employee who does the work which involves skills or competences of extraordinary degrees and levels and possesses supervisory abilities.

Skilled-Workers: A skilled worker or an employee is one who is capable of working independently and efficiently and accurately. He/she must be capable of reading, writing and working on simple drawing circuits and processes, if necessary.

Semi-skilled Workers: A semi-skilled employee is one who has sufficient knowledge of the particular trade or above to do the respective job and simple work with the help of simple tools, equipment and machinery.

Unskilled-Workers: An unskilled-worker or employee is someone who possesses no special training and whose work involves the performance of the simple duties that require the exercise of a little or no independent judgement or previous experience, even though a familiarity with the occupational surroundings may be necessary.

White-collar Jobs: Referring to the white dress shirts of male office workers, commonly known in Western countries during most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term ‘White-collar worker’ is used for someone, doing some sort of an administrative, managerial or professional job, which include such fields, departments and industries, as research and development, architecture, contracting, medical profession, law profession, networking or network science, information technology (IT), operations research, marketing, finance, engineering, human resources, market research, academia, customer support and business management or business administration.

White-collar jobs, according to Wehmeier (2000: p.1477), are those to be connected with work in offices. Such jobs are concerned with those working in an office, rather than in a factory, etc.

White-collar Crime: It refers to a financially motivated non-violent crime committed by a business or government’s professionals. It was defined within criminology, for the first time, by Edwin Hardin Sutherland (1883 – 1950), an American sociologist, in 1939, as “a crime committed by a person of responsibility and high social status in the course of his/her occupation”.

A white-collar crime is a generic term for crimes involving commercial fraud, cheating consumers/clients. It also includes the term ‘swindle’ that means a situation in which somebody uses dishonest or illegal methods in order to get money from a company, another person, etc. The word ‘swindle’ also means cheating someone in order to get something, especially money, from that person. Apart from it, the term ‘white-collar crime’ is meant embezzlement that means to steal money that you are responsible for or that belongs to your employer/client and other forms of dishonest business schemes.

The word ‘white-collar crime’ comes from the out-of-date assumption that business executives wear white shirts and ties. It also, theoretically, distinguishes these crimes and criminals from physical crimes, supposedly likely to be committed by “blue-collar” workers.

Blue-collar Jobs: Blue-collar jobs are connected with people who do physical work in an industry rather than in offices. A blue-collar worker is a working class person who, mostly, does manual labour. Stemming or originating from the image of manual workers, putting on/wearing blue denim (a hard-wearing cotton twill fabric, typically, blue and used for jeans and other clothing) or chambray (a cloth with a white weft and a coloured warp) shirts as part of their uniform, it was in 1924 that the term ‘blue-collar’ was used, for the first time, in an Alden, Iowa newspaper, in reference to trades jobs.

It may either be skilled or unskilled labour or both, but blue-collar work includes such kinds of jobs, as maintenance, recycling, driving, waste disposal, shipping, construction, oil field work, manufacturing, warehousing, technical installations, fire-fighting, food processing, mining, pest control, the job of custodians/cleaning, sanitation, landscaping, farming and commercial fishing among others.

However, according to the 2006 – 2007 Bureau of Labor/Labour Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the top 10 blue-collar jobs of the time, included such ones, as plastic machine setters, commercial and industrial equipment and electrical and electronics repairers, aircraft and avionics (electronics, as applied to aviation; electronic equipment fitted in an aircraft) machines, subway or streetcar operators, elevator installers, police officers, electricians, building and construction inspectors, structural iron and steel workers and steamfitters, pipefitters and plumbers, etc.

The purpose of writing this article (piece of writing) is to shed some light on how some fellow-human beings are abused, cheated, exploited and maltreated by other fellow human beings in the names of various professions and vocations for gratifying their own personal and vested interests. In other words, people belonging to different professions misuse their powers, skills, positions, talents, techniques, while using their tricks and tactics to get a wrong advantage by applying their skills when performing their jobs as professionals.

To be honest, both professionals and non-professionals are involved in abusing their powers and transgressing their limits for their personal interests. In other words, the people belonging to both white-collar jobs and blue-collar jobs are responsible for taking a wrong advantage of their powers, skills and authority for the sake of their own vested interests where possible, while performing their jobs, duties and responsibilities. The reason is that human nature is very hard to be satisfied and content with what a person has in their possession at a time. Most people want to get more and more in their lives. As it is said that ‘Man is, by nature, a shirker or work-shy’. It means that most of the people want to get more for doing less. Similarly, it is also claimed that ‘Man is greedy by nature’. So, the same greed forces the people or human beings to wish, desire and ask for more and more.

Human nature has been described by various philosophers, writers, scholars and thinkers differently. For example, Machiavelli has mentioned human nature to be greedy, crafty, selfish, opportunist and cruel, while Jane Jacques Rousseau takes a totally opposite opinion and presents human nature in his philosophy, as good, sincere, innocent and honest.

Depending on every one’s individual natural inclination, some people are more selfish, deceitful, dishonest and greedier than others. Putting aside the various theories, opinions and views regarding human nature, it is a well-known fact that all the people are not the same. Every nation, ethnicity, race, nationality, country, religion, language and locality has both good as well as bad people. Even the children of the same parents are, sometimes, completely different from each other in their behaviours, attitudes, habits, ways of life and dealing with other people. Therefore, it is crystal-clear that we cannot blame a particular or specific nation or people for the wrong-doing of a single person or a few people from among the same nation or people.

As it has been mentioned earlier that both the professionals and non-professionals are involved in abusing their powers, positions of authority and skills they possess while doing their jobs, so no group is to be exempt from being involved in the malpractice of their profession. On one hand, we see so many people, belonging to the professional and white-collar jobs, to be involved in abusing their powers and skills they possess while offering their services to their clients, customers, patients and other needy people. The professional and white-collar jobs include those done by such people, as dieticians, dentists, doctors/GPs, opticians, surgeons and other such medical professionals, teachers/professors and other intelligentsia or intellectuals, engineers, solicitors/lawyers, barristers (and other such law professionals), pilots, probation officers, stockbrokers, architects, professionals in public relations and advertising, corporate executives and so on.

Nonetheless, Dawn Rosenberg McKay is a certified Career Development Facilitator and a former writer for The Balance Careers, who has written an article, titled ‘The 15 Best White-collar Jobs’ on June 25, 2019, where the list includes such professionals, as an auditor or accountant, information security analyst, applications software developer, management consultant/management analyst, market research analyst, financial manager, operations research analyst, health services or medical manager, civil engineer, personal financial advisor, administrative service manager, database administrator, real estate appraiser or assessor, instructional coordinator and cost estimator (calculating the cost of manufacturing project or completing a construction).

On the other hand, those relating to blue-collar jobs are not lagging behind in mishandling their performance and abusing their powers and skills and exploiting their customers, employers, passengers and others.

Nevertheless, white-collar crime should not be limited to professional people only, as some politicians (corrupt ones), who do not hold any position or doing any job as a profession, still manipulate to get elected by people, and, then, abuse their powers for getting monetary and non-monetary benefits in different ways. Thus, such people should also be called white-collar criminals.

Similarly, some religious clerics and leaders are not holding any positions, like an engineer, a doctor, professor, accountant, etc., but still use their religious influence for abusing innocent, candid and straightforward people and robbing them of their money and other resources in the name of religion. For instance, there are many examples of such people, especially in the Indo-Pak sub-continent countries, like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who pose themselves as religious scholars, saints, holy persons and spiritual leaders within their relevant regions and communities. They try to gain the trust of the straightforward people and, thus, build their reputation among such people after some time. After getting a good name in the community, they, then, start exploiting, abusing and misleading the ordinary people in the name of religion and get financial and non-financial benefits from the people.

There are many instances and stories, associated with such fake saints/holy persons or ‘Jaali Peers’, as they are called in Urdu language, who have robbed the simple and innocent people of their money and some of them have raped many women and girls, while taking a wrong advantage of their religious position and reputation among the people.

Accordingly, there is a report of the arrest of such a fake mystic or holy person (Jaali Peer) by the police in Pakistan, who is in the police custody at present and who has mentioned his name as ‘Karrant/Current Baba’. Karrant/Current Baba has been arrested for raping some 600 to 700 childless women, who used to visit him in the hope to have some children. Karrant Baba used to take each woman into his private room or one of his private bogus offices and, then, raped her by forcing her to have sex with him, if she wanted to be able to make kids. According to his own confession, he has raped as many as six hundred to seven hundred such women, including a ten-year-old girl, whom he raped twice. After raping the women, Karrant Baba used to threaten them with dire, terrible, dreadful or serious consequences, in case they would try to report him. This event has been recently reported by Neo TV Network in its programme, called ‘Pukaar’, with Anila Zaka which can be found and available at 24 Urdu Pukaar.

Thus, this is obvious that white-collar crimes are not limited or restricted to professionals, holding high posts in various departments, only. Instead, this is a crime committed by anyone who can influence and manipulate others.

Qasim Swati is a freelance journalist, writer and human rights activist, based in the UK, and can be reached at or

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