Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael Lynch


Contextual Anomie/Strain Theory, Massey Energy, Maximization, Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster


To this point, research on corporate crime has been, for the most part, overlooked by mainstream criminology. In particular, corporate violations of safety regulations in the coal mining industry have yet to be studied within the field of criminology. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the crimes of a coal mining corporation, a corporation whose business decisions led to the worst coal mining disaster in forty years, along with the deaths of twenty-nine men. This thesis will utilize a case study format in order to illustrate the crimes committed by this corporation. Previous literature covering the history of coal mining safety in the United States, the political economy of coal, and theoretical explanations of corporate crime will be reviewed. The crimes detailed in this case study will then be explained using Contextual Anomie/Strain Theory. The criminal liability of corporations, potential ways to reduce corporate crime in the coal mining industry, as well as limitations of this study and directions for future research in this area will also be discussed.