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NCJ Number: 69615 Find in a Library
Title: Causes and Cures of Political Corruption
Journal: Studies in the Social Sciences  Volume:14  Dated:(June 1975)  Pages:1-19
Author(s): G C S Benson
Date Published: 1975
Page Count: 19
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on an examination of the historical development of political corruption and theories explaining its causes, this article concludes that more attention should be paid to strengthening ethical standards.
Abstract: Historically corruption has been associated with the political machine, but although the latter has almost disappeared, political corruption on a local and national scale has continued. Contemporary America has more corruption than any other western democracy, resulting in considerable damage to the economy and moral climate. The functional theory argues that corruption comes with rapid social and economic modernization and is more likely to occur in societies with few established institutions and social norms. This concept fails to explain much of the corruption in 19th and 20th century United States, although some elements may apply to Federal and State regulatory entities. Other social scientists have emphasized that the lack of rigid class structures in the United States has facilitated the development of political corruption, citing the British traditions of upperclass dominance in a comparatively honest government. The vertical mobility of American society should not be altered, but efforts should be made to indoctrinate citizens with a special sense of public responsibility. Another reason often given for corruption is the American emphasis on business and free enterprise. Other critics have suggested that the separation of powers system be abandoned. In summary, political corruption can be attributed to strong urban traditions of ethnic voting, semicorrupt police, and bribe-offering contractors along with decentralized and inefficient law enforcement machinery. The ineffective teaching of moral standards by schools and churches constitutes an underlying reason for continuing corruption. These institutions with assistance from the media, should emphasize individual ethics such as honesty, truth, and courage. Central supervision of law enforcement efforts and programs to improve conditions in poorer areas are also needed. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Corruption of public officials; United States of America
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