Socio Economic Status and It's Relation to Crime

Topics: Gender, Crime, Criminology Pages: 13 (2604 words) Published: April 20, 2013
Choose one of the following socio-demographic characteristics: age, sex, ethnicity, or socio-economic status (SES). Describe its relationship to crime, paying attention to whether that relationship is observable at the individual and/ or the aggregate-level. What are the major theoretical explanations for that relationship? To what extent are the results of prior empirical research consistent with those theoretical explanations?

Women have traditionally been perceived as “the nurturer’s” in the family unit,

and men as the “bread-winners”. However, the recent battle for gender

equality, and the dissipation of the rigid guidelines of masculinity and

femininity shaped by the politics of gender, in conjunction with a media frenzy

over the subtly sexy violent woman depicted on screen, has seen the

increase in the acceptance of women in crime. Statistically the percentage of

female arrests between 1960 and 1990 has risen by 8%, rising from 11% to

19%, almost doubling itself. Most criminologists will agree that males are

largely overrepresented in crime statistics, this is recognized universally. This

issue of the gender-gap is multi-faceted as it addresses not only the need to

understand female criminality, but also, male criminality, and the motivations

for crime amidst both genders. Thus, the issue of understanding gender with

regards to crime is ternary; firstly it must be established what the reasoning

behind women who commit crime is, secondly the gender gap must be

addressed, and thirdly the reasoning behind men who commit crime with

regards to their gender must be established.

Women account for a very small percentage of all crime statistics, 19% in 1990. Furthermore, men offend at much higher rates than women for all crime

categories except prostitution. The gender gap in crime is greatest for serious

crime and least for mild forms of law-breaking. When considering that the

gender gap is smallest in relation to less serious crime, it is possible to

assess a variety of evidence that suggests that there is an overlap in the

causes of such crime for both mean and women. Similarities stemming from

a similitude in social backgrounds, like male and female offenders are

typically of low-socioeconomic status, poorly educated, unemployed, and

disproportionately from minority groups. The main difference in their social

profile is the greater presence of dependent children amongst female

offenders. Additionally, the extent to which male rates can predict female

rates provides indirect evidence of similarity in the etiology of female and

male crime (Steffensmeier & Allan 1988, Steffensmeier et al 1989). Groups or

societies that have high male rates of crime also have high female rates, this

applies reciprocally. Such findings suggest that females respond to the same

social and legal forces as males, independent of any condition unique to

women or men (Bortitch & Hagan 1990, Steffensmeier 1980, Steffensmeier &

Streifel 1992).

These traditional approaches to the gender gap do not lend an explanation to

the profound differences in male and female offending patterns and rates. Six

areas of life that inhibit female crime but enable male crime will be outlined to demonstrate this point. Firstly, there are gender norms; the female identity

tends to be procured from the key males in their lives. Thereby females

involved with a criminal male become accomplices to their partners criminal

activities “out of love”. The ladylike femininity stereotypes are characteristics

that are at odds with qualities valued in the criminal underworld

(Steffensmeier 1986). Whilst the divisors between what is masculine and

criminal are often blurred. Secondly, there are gender differences in moral

development (Gilligan 1982) and an apparent greater inherent readiness of

women to learn parenting and nurturing (Beutel & Marini...
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