What is Corruption?

Cambridge English Dictionary defines corruption as, ” illegal, bad or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power”. Similarly, Transparency International, the world´s largest anti-corruption agency, defines it as, ” the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”

Both definitions suggest corruption as an act committed only by people in positions of power. I don´t believe this is the case. Corrupt behaviour can be practiced by people at all levels in society, in my opinion, not only those in power. Whilst the big cases may involve large losses and gain media attention, I think the scale of the problem, at all levels in society, is a far bigger problem than the smaller number of high-profile cases.

I prefer the term, “the abuse of entrusted responsibility for private gain.” This wider definition would cover behaviour such as the laziness of public sector workers who exploit the fact that they cannot, or are very unlikely to, be dismissed. Or, the employee who sees the permitted number of days for sickness leave per year as additional holiday entitlement, whether they are sick or not.

As you can see in the “Why Fight Corruption?” section, these lessor examples of corruption have a massive impact due to the scale of their occurence, especially in certain industries, professions, companies or organisations. In some cases they are so widespread they are seen as normal, not as corruption. In this case it can be said there exists a Culture of Corruption.

A look in the Thesaurus for synonyms is a better guide to behavior and actions that may be considered corrupt:

Looking at corruption in this way gives us a better idea of the scale of the problem. But, then the problem is seen as daunting. To overcome this we must first make sure that our own behavior is not corrupt, and then we must remmember that the other people who are corrupt are also brothers, fathers,  aunts, uncles, colleagues, friends. They are therefore not beyond our influence.

The consequences of corruption are often not immediately obvious, even to those that commit the act. So, one way to start changing behaviour is to make people see the consequence of their actions. If this does not work we need to make it clear that their behavior is not acceptable and decide on some course of action.  This site will soon provide information on how to fight corruption. One step is to support Artists Against Corruption so that we can expose the problem and establish widespread awareness of it, and it´s consequences.

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