Everybody’s Doin’ It

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (which might have been better as the Centre for Study of Crime and Justice, but nevermind) has released a report, “Law-abiding majority? The everyday crimes of the middle classes” [PDF], by Professor Susanne Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall, that shows that 61% of the English and Welsh middle class have committed a crime “of every day life.” The data are as follows:

offence %
Paid cash in hand to avoid taxation 34
Kept the money when ‘over-changed’ 32
Taken something from work 18
Avoided paying TV licence 11
Wrongly used identity cards for own gain 11
Claimed for refunds they knew they weren’t entitled to 5
Not disclosed faulty goods in second-hand sales 8
Asked a friend in a bureaucracy to ‘bend the rules’ 6
Padded an insurance claim 7
Deliberately misclaimed benefits for own gain 3

The report examines possible causes for the widespread nature of this misbehaviour, exploring particularly the concept of anomie as a result of the deregulation of markets. Sadly,

The law-abiding majority not only do not abide by the law, they also do not believe in the value of laws and rules, shrugging them off in pursuit of their interests and desires. They even regard law-abidingness as a disadvantage…

Our research shows that attitudes that lead to illegal, unfair and unethical behaviour are embedded in the moral economy of contemporary markets. They are, moreover, endemic in the core of society. Contempt for the law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is perceived rampant at the margins and among specific marginal groups. Anti-social behaviour by the few is mirrored by anti-civil behaviour by the many.


  1. i am left-leaning myself, but this sounds like a bunch of far left crap…for one I would like to see why this behavior is termed “anti-civil”. Many of the “misdeeds” identified above are civil issues, not criminal and generally represent a socially acceptable level of risk reflected in the price paid or demanded. In economic theory, information is priced into the S/D curve – which means that it in the second hand goods example above it is the risk that the buyer undertakes in order to get the goods at a deeply discounted price.

    Moreover, many of the misdeeds have been traditionally looked at as “victimless” crimes, a flawed concept but one not much different from societal view on speeding or marijuana use. Does that mean that persons who speed or smoke weed will also be seen by the authors as having contempt for the law?