U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Shaming, Shame and Recidivism: A Test of Reintegrative Shaming Theory in the White-Collar Crime Context

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 47 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 900-917
Kristina Murphy; Nathan Harris
Date Published
November 2007
18 pages
Based on survey data collected from 652 tax offenders, this Australian study tested Braithwaite's theory of reintegrative shaming in the context of white-collar crime.
The study found that those tax offenders who perceived the handling of their case as more reintegrative (designed to develop law-abiding behavior) than stigmatizing (impose negative labels and punitive sanctions) were less likely to report that they had evaded their taxes in the years following their enforcement experience. Reintegration predicted slightly less shame acknowledgement, not more. A desire to "put things right" was more influential in reducing reoffending than having a feeling of shame regarding the offense. The findings lend general support to the reintegrative shaming theory in the white-collar crime context. Braithwaite's theory argues that disapproval that is reintegrative is conducted in a respectful and healing manner. It makes a special effort to avoid stigmatizing labeling and ends disapproval with rituals of forgiveness or reconciliation. The findings of this study suggest that in order to prevent possible reoffending after an enforcement experience, regulators should adopt enforcement procedures that emphasize the reintegration of offenders back into society under the assumption that they have learned their lesson and will adopt law-abiding behavior. The 652 tax offenders who participated in the study had all been caught and punished for investing in illegal tax avoidance schemes. The survey to which the participants responded contained over 200 questions designed to test respondents' attitudes toward the Australian tax system, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and paying taxes. A number of questions were also designed to assess respondents' self-reported tax compliance behavior and their views about their enforcement experience. The study focused on ATO reintegration/stigmatization variables, shame-related emotion variables, and self-reported noncompliance with tax laws. 3 tables, 1 figure, 59 references, and appended survey items used in the study's analysis