Assess the relationship between social class and crime
Social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most being upper, middle, and lower classes. Karl Marx defines social class as ones relationship to the means of production, the classes in modern capitalist society being the ‘proletarian’. Those invest and live off of the surplus generated by the former, and the aristocracy that has land as a means of production.
Crime is an act of harmful not only to some individual, but also to the community or the state (a public wrong). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by the laws of society. The term ‘crime’ is also contentious as many of the harmful activities of business or occupational groups are not subject to criminal law and punishment but to administrative or regulatory law and ‘penalties’ or ‘sanctions’. Similarly, Pearce (2003) looks at evidence that corporate crime is widespread but is rarely prosecuted. According to Sutherland 1949:9 white collar crime is committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.
Many theories of crime are based on partly on official statistics provided by the police, courts and the government. In countries like Britain and the USA these show that some groups are more involved in crime than others. According to official data, the working class, the young and some minority ethnic groups are more likely to commit crimes than the middle class, the elderly and females. The poor would commit crime out of need out of a sense of injustice. Hence, those with power exercise control and impose punishment, equating the definition of crime with harm or threat of harm to the property and business interest of the powerful. Although the inherent activities comprising, say, a theft, maybe identical, theft by the poor will be given greater...
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