Relationship Between Social Class and Crime

Sociology, Social stratification, Structural functionalism

Assess the relationship between social class and crime
Some sociological theories of crime are based, in part, on official statistics provided by the police, the courts, and various government departments. Such statistics provide evidence of the extent of crime and information about the social characteristics of the criminal. A misrepresentation of this data, that crime is largely a working class phenomenon, may be due to the selective application of the law, according to W.J. Chambliss and M. Mankoff in "Whose Law" What Order?" (1976). There is increasing evidence to suggest that there is a systematic bias in favour of the ruling class. In general, if an individual has committed a criminal act, then the higher he or she is in the stratification system the less likely he is to be arrested, if arrested to be prosecuted, if prosecuted to be found guilty, and if found guilty to be imprisoned. If this is so, then the assumption that crime is largely a working class phenomenon may be incorrect - so is there really any relationship between social class and crime. 'CHAMBLISS' THEORY

Chambliss argues that crime occurs throughout all social strata. The major differences between the strata may be the types of crimes committed and the nature of law enforcement. He claims that power in the form of 'money to influence' is the key factor which determines who gets arrested and who does not. In one of his works Chambliss pointed out that those who operate organised crime are not members of the true 'criminal class', they belong to the economic and political elite! Also, it is not only the small minority of active syndicate members within the ruling class who profit from crime interests will not be penalised; those that do will not be subject to legal sanctions. Marxists, such as Chambliss and Mankoff, see crime as a natural product of capitalist society. Both argue that the capital economic system generates greed, self-interest and hostility which motivates many crimes in all...
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