Social Class and Age Crime and deviance: A2 Sociology Unit 4
Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (This links to age)
C&D Act 1997 was the biggest overhaul in Juvenile Justice in more than 50 years.
Was the result of an earlier white paper called ‘Misspent Youth’ which won New Labour the 1997 election.
It saw the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility in England & Wales to 10 years
It also saw the introduction of...
* Also abolished the death penalty for treason and piracy
What do we know? Youth Crime Statistics
70% of youth crime committed by 7- 8% youths
Huge cost of incarceration
76% re-offend within two years
£2,300 savings from preventing a single youth crime (Cooper & Lybrand 1994)
£1.5m annually to deal with crime related damage in one street in Braunstone, Leicester.
One of the most visible forms of violence
Nightlife, Sports Events
Poor Parental Supervision
Presence of Gangs
England vs Trinidad and Tobago 9 million extra pints sold World Cup drinking will fuel violence on our streets say police
Has used the term ‘social capital’ to help explain why some youths do and some do not get into crime.
Social capital refers to the social advantages a person has access to, in particular:
Strong family relationships
High levels of interaction between parents and children
Clear rules and values in the home
Coleman found a link between these factors and low rates of juvenile crime
Social Capital has been taken up by many policy makers and fits in well with the New Right approach
Criticisms Of Social Capital theory : It is a vague concept It is too easy to talk in such generalisations Single parents etc are an easy target and are made scapegoats Many single parent families are very stable and secure and do not produce juvenile delinquents
2. Social Class Marxists and others argue that social class is the significant factor MC parents can be poor parents too but because of cultural and economic capital can avoid the pitfalls of juvenile delinquency
3. It’s not all the lower WC Marxists and others argue that the concentration on lower class crime ignores the big area of white collar crime
Hirschi – bonds of attachment (attachment, commitment, involvement and belief)
Age – class and crime
Young, working class are more likely to commit criminal acts than older, middle class.
A typical prisoner in the U.K will be under 30 and working class.
Offending rises steeply from 10-18 then declines sharply after 24.
Functionalism – Age and class Functionalists like Merton say young working class people commit crime because they strive for success but lack the necessary educational skills and qualifications. They want the goal of success but must achieve it illegitimately. (Innovation) Subcultural theory – Age and class Young working class people join gangs because they are frustrated at their status in mainstream society. They solve this by rejecting mainstream norms and values, joining a gang and achieving a status through non-utilitarian crimes. Right realism – class Right realists like Charles Murray believe that single parent families fail to socialise their children effectively due to a lack of male role models, they also grow up to be welfare dependant. Left realism – Age and class Most crime is committed by working class people against working class people. Perhaps because relative deprivation , individualism and that fact we live in a bulimic society (the idea that we are exposed to consumer products but cannot consume them). Labelling theory – age and class Young working class people especially boys are more likely to be stopped and searched and labelled as criminals by the police and courts.
Social Class – The Facts
A variety of data show a link between social class and known offending.
For example, 41 per cent of prisoners are from social classes IV and V (19% of the general population) against only 18 per cent of prisoners from social classes I, II or III (45% of the general population) (Walmsley et al., 1994).
A study of persistent young offenders also found that only eight per cent were from households whose head was in non-manual employment(Hagell and Newburn, 1994).
What Do Self Report Studies Say?
Generally, though, studies of self-reported offending show less difference in offending between social classes (Riley and Shaw, 1985; Graham and Bowling, 1995).
In the YLS, men in social classes IV and V were more likely to be serious or persistent offenders than others. For women the same pattern applies, although there were relatively less among those in social class I and II.
White Collar Crime: A crime committed by a person of high social status against a company or a person. (Sutherland)
Corporate Crime: Crime committed by a company.
Blue Collar crime: Crime committed by the working class.
Merton (functionalism) believes that working class, young males are more likely to be criminal because of educational failure.
Which group would Merton argue that they fit into?
They tend to look at why working class areas have higher rates of crime than middle class areas.
They focus on arguments such as the ‘Zones of Transition’ and differential association.
Owen Gill suggested that police labeling and deviancy amplification may push up crime in certain areas.
Social Action Theory
They believe that the young working class (boys) are negatively labelled by the police and the courts. They are seen as criminal.
This is illustrated by Chambliss and his work on the Saints and the Roughnecks.
Social class and crime Marxism The working class are no more criminals than anyone else, however the law protects the bourgeoisie so the working class become easier to criminalise. The working class get harsher punishments compared with those who commit white collar crimes . White collar crime Crimes committed by office workers ( middle/upper class) like fraud, these are often hidden from public view. Blue collar crime Crimes committed by manual factory workers ( working class), these are street crimes like theft which are in public view. Corporate crime Very difficult to prosecute due to problems of who is responsible and who is a victim. Much Corporate crime is not dealt with criminally but administratively by external agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Trading Standards Agency. Only serious cases go to court. Case study – Guinness affair False claims of success led to high share prices and company directors making millions. Gerald Ronson received a one -year sentence in Ford (open prison) and was released on parole after serving about 6 months. He is still a successful businessman and one of Britain's 100 richest people.
New Left Realists argue that all social class and all ages commit crimes, but that violent crimes are more likely to be committed by young working-class black men.