Connections Between Crime and Poverty Essay
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In March 2007 a study done by the McClatchy Newspapers had found that the ranks of the severely impoverished are rapidly escalating (Williams, 2007). The study showed that the poverty level in America had reached its highest point in 32 years (Williams, 2007). Nearly Sixteen million Americans had been found to be in a deep to severe level of poverty (Williams, 2007). The level of poverty on went up after the economic crash in 2009. But has the increased level of poverty led to an increase in violence? A lot of outside effects are often over looked when looking at the correlation between poverty and crime. One of those factors is a higher rate of mental illness among lower income people (Taylor, 2006). Poverty also causes higher levels of…show more content…
Personal income, which is of course is lower for people in poverty, can increase crime since greater wealth means an increase in benefits to thieves and robbers. Many times things like a lower social class, normally a reflection of personal income, can cause a person to commit crimes in order to improve their social standing (Taylor, 2006). Variations in the density of the population can affect crime in different ways. First adolescents who are brought up in a high poverty are often responsible for crimes committed (Taylor, 2006). Children in poverty affected areas are also more likely to be suspended, expelled, or drop out of school have a much higher chance to a police record then a child that is well to do (Taylor, 2006). A higher percentage of inhabitants under the age of twenty-five in a poverty stricken also can lead to higher crime rates (Taylor, 2006). On the other hand, the elderly, because of their possessions and vulnerability, are believed to be the most frequent victims of crime (Taylor, 2006).
But even with these points being made, many scholars still do not believe that poverty goes hand in hand with crime. The belief is that the causes of poverty are what leads to crime. Normally areas with high poverty areas do not provide the same level of education seen in more affluent areas (Gardner, 2007). This leads to less opportunity for young people to improve their
Perfect 24/24 Poverty essay “Class Structure of Poverty”
Assess the view that poverty is caused by the class structure of society (24 marks).
One way in which poverty is caused by the class structure of society is that the working classes are exploited. They are exploited as the ruling class which are the owners of the means of production in society, use their disadvantaged position to gain cheap labour. For example, Marx would argue that poverty is a way of keeping wages down to the point that the poorer classes would take any job that means staying above the breadline. This way low paid jobs in factories will be taken and so the WC can be paid less than any other for boring jobs, that help the RC. Alternatively from a more right wing perspective of the New Right, poverty is caused by the attitudes that the WC have not that exploitation of them. Oscar Lewis would argue that there is a culture of poverty, which are limiting the poor from coming out of poverty; this includes their present time orientations and not wanting to reintegrate into society. In this way it is not that the WC are forced to take low paid jobs to benefit the RC, but instead don’t want to work, as they won’t plan that far ahead to create a stable life. So poverty is less about the class structure of society but more about the culture of poverty itself.
Another way in which poverty is caused by the class structure of society is through denying opportunities to the working class. This is because the education system is built for the middle classes, as they can afford the hidden costs of free education (textbooks, school trips, uniform, books), and live in area’s with good schools. This is a New Right idea of selection by mortgage, the MC can gain access to the best schools as they can afford it, the WC can’t. With anyone if you don’t achieve at school you are vastly limited on the opportunities outside of school, like the world of work, without adequate work, poverty is a big shadow cast over everything that happens. However it could be argued that it isn’t about the MC and the WC at war about schools, but instead attitudes and languages that the WC have that limit their own opportunities. For instance, Bernstein argued that the WC have their own language code, which is restricted, context based, lacking in grammar and vocabulary, whereas the schools work on the opposite. So the WC set themselves up for failure in life and inevitably poverty as they are inadequately socialised. Therefore it is about the class structure in society, but more how different the WC are to the education system, leading to social exclusion and poverty later in life.
Another issue around this is that it might not be specifically the class structure, but the structure of society itself, in that a capitalist society built on the premise of profit and production will inevitably cause poverty. This is because some will always be more successful than others and the others will become poor. For instance the poorest 50% only own 9% of the wealth in the country whereas the richest 20% own 62% of the wealth because of the structure of the society. This does link to the class structure as the people who are poor will become an ’underclass’. This is an idea put forward by American sociologist Murray who says that there are people in our society who fail and become dependant on welfare because they can’t and wont gain access to mainstream society. He says these are sexually irresponsible, undereducated people who centre their beliefs around welfare and don’t want to leave. But this could also be down to the fact that the structure of a capitalist class centred society isn’t feasible to work in low paid jobs. Sociologists have found that some people stand to loose 70-90p per £1 in social security when they take low paid work. This is bad. Poverty is no longer just about class but about the structure of work, and how it is inevitable that people will be poor and stay poor because life is centred around work.
Another way in which poverty is caused by the class structure of society is that the ruling class want to use the poor as a reserve army of labour. This reserve army of labour is made up of the poor who can work for the rich for cheap wages. For example Marxists argue that the poor are designed to act as cheap labour but are told they can work. This is using a functionalist view of meritocracy that you can get out of poverty if you work hard, when its just that the RC want a reserve army of labour to work in their businesses under the illusion that they can get out of poverty the higher they climb in the business whereas its just creating productivity for the RC. However it could be argued that the cause of poverty is not down to the RC wanting a reserve labour army but the situational factors that people are placed in; there was a collapse of manufacturing jobs recently and so it could be the changes in the labour force not that the RC want hard workers that is the cause of poverty.
In conclusion it is inevitable in a class driven, profit and production driven society that there will be poverty, and so the class structure and structure that comes from it is a valid cause of poverty.