Class And Crime: How The Lower Classes Do Harder Time For Being Poor

Neil Turner

There is a callous amount of attention surrounding crime in lower income neighborhoods from what I’ve seen on American TV news sources, and truthfully, I remember growing up believing that crime couldn’t happen anywhere else.

I come from a lower-class background, so I’ve been thinking about this for years, and most recently, I’ve had the chance to read this sociology book where authors provided a theory called social disorganization that may explain why people from lower class backgrounds may resort to crime when they do not feel supported by the systems that are meant to nurture them. In this one particular chapter, they contend that criminality is qualified by the ecology of a given community. In other words, there is something significant about the governmental structure of communities that creates a disorganization or inefficiency, especially in the areas that lack proper guidance, support, and financial resources within or beyond their family homes.

I see value in the idea that social discrimination occurs when the structures of a community (I’m talking police, school systems, outreach facilities, mental and physical clinics, etc.) do not seem to benefit the members of the demographic it makes it up, and because the ecology of most lower-income neighborhoods in America tend to be composed of Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian people, this statistic becomes racialized. A social segregation forms between lower, middle, and upper-class neighborhoods, and a cultural divide follows based upon the amount of wealth and general resources available in those communities. In a sense, this segregation disperses the level of treatment and guidance amongst these classes, elevating anxieties and concerns of the people of the lower-income spectrum, especially young adults, when they experience the effects of this governmental divide in subtle or aggressive ways.

It doesn’t take too much to notice that there is limited access to essential resources in lower-income groups that other classes have had the privilege of experiencing over time. Although crime, of course, is not at all limited to this sole concept, nevertheless, with this class imbalance in mind, social accountability to the neighborhood becomes inadequate, distrust with these systems arises, and a motivation to break out of these structures invites the potential for crime to happen.

I’m not saying that crime is agreeable, but I think it’s necessary to deeply understand why it happens because let’s be honest: crime coming from the hood receives much more attention than any other class group in the news. Hardly do we see these situations as being representative of the systems that have driven people’s circumstances beyond a reasonable capacity. It’s critical to address the problems surrounding crime from both all spectrums, but it’s dire to accept the truth that there are also reckoning parameters within these structures that insufficiently incite this type of disorganization in the first place. TC mark


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