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From virtue to venalityCorruption in the city$
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Peter Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088728

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088728.001.0001

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Perceptions and anxieties

Perceptions and anxieties

(p.13) 1 Perceptions and anxieties
From virtue to venality

Peter Jones

Manchester University Press

Public awareness of corruption fluctuates over time and is often dependent on other political and cultural factors. The definition of corruption often widens in scope as societies become more democratic. Thresholds of tolerance of corrupt activity on the part of politicians are raised or lowered according to circumstance. Thus in war time for example ‘profiteering’ is perceived to be unpatriotic and corrupt if government regulations such as rationing are contravened. Laws prohibiting corruption vary from state to state and Britain is a highly regulated state but corruption is often difficult to prosecute. Therefore measuring corruption prosecutions over time can only serve as a proxy measure and like other crimes corruption is often under-reported. It is possible to make some judgements via newspaper reportage and public opinion polls.. In the twentieth century, the development of reform critiques and therefore legislative programmes to control corruption have been slow to develop. This is despite numerous landmark cases and investigations including Tribunals of Inquiry and Royal Commissions. The attitude of British politicians and public servants has often taken comfort from the assumption, imbibed from the imperial legacy, that corruption is more prevalent elsewhere including the USA, Italy and also widely in Africa and Asia.

Keywords:   Perceptions, definitions, measurements, thresholds of tolerance, reform critiques, tribunals and Royal Commissions

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