Sie sind auf Seite 1von 117

Knowledge Area Module 1

Principles of Societal Development

by

Fred Biney Fred.biney@Waldenu.edu

Student ID # A00169570

Program: PhD in Human Services

Specialization: Criminal Justice

Faculty Mentor: Keith Bryett keith.bryett@waldenu.edu

KAM Assessor: Keith Bryett keith.bryett@waldenu.edu

Walden University

April 11, 2010


Abstract

Breadth

The first part of this paper will identify and examine three major change theories. These theories

are evolutionary theory, conflict theory and, structural-functional theory. The theorists whose

work is to be considered are Spencer, Comte, Marx and Parsons. Additional objectives will be to

identify and examine how poverty and social inequalities have been explained by evolutionary

theorists, social functional theorists, and, structural-functional theorists. Furthermore, the paper

will compare and contrast the classical philosophies of Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte, Karl

Marx and, Talbott Parsons as they relate to poverty and social inequality. Finally, this paper will

also analyze the strengths and limitations of Spencer’s, Comte’s, Marx’s, and Parson’ theories of

social change in terms of their underlying philosophies as they relate to the building of a fair and

just society.
Abstract

Depth

This section of the paper will identify, examine and analyze current research and literature on the

treatment of racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged offenders in the criminal

justice system in relationship to the social change theories examined in the Breadth paper.

Further objectives for this section will be to explore, identify, and evaluate the current treatment

of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders under the criminal justice system

and its relationship to social change. Furthermore, this section will compare and contrast current

research concerning racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders under the

criminal justice system. Finally, the paper will also identify and discuss current theories being

advance towards the equal and fair treatment of racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged offenders under the criminal justice system.


Abstract

Application

The third section of this paper will consist of two parts. The first part is about 10 pages to link

the ideas, themes, theoretical findings of the authorities whose work is examined in the Breadth

and Depth paper are related and linked to the application project; which is the production a

booklet manual. The title of the booklet will be called, A Framework for Understanding

Minorities and Economically Disadvantaged Offenders under the Criminal Justice System. The

objective of the booklet is to promote a positive social change in the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, the booklet could be to utilize to train existing staff and all newly employed staff

towards the proper and fair treatment of minority and economically disadvantaged offenders

under the criminal justice system


Table of Contents

List of Table of Contents……………………………………………………………….i

List of Table of Contents……………………………………………………………….ii

Breadth: Poverty and Inequalities in America…………………………………………..1

Classical and Contemporary Social Change Theories……………………………………5

Evolutionary Theories…………………………………………………………………..11

Herbert Spencer…………………………………………………………………………13

Auguste Comte………………………………………………………………………….15

Karl Marx’s Conflict Theory……………………………………………………………17

Structural Functional Theory……………………………………………………………18

Talcott Parsons………………………………………………………………………….19

Summary and Analysis………………………………………………………………….20

Differences and Similarities………………………………….…………………………24

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………..27

Depth: Racial Minorities and Criminal Justice System…………………….………….28

Annotated Bibliography………………………………………………………………28

Literature Review Essay………………………………………………………….......58

Social Change in Contemporary America…………………………………………….59

Racial Minorities, Economically Disadvantaged People & Law Enforcement………61

Fear, Mistrust and Tension between Races…………………………………….........63

Mass Urban Poverty…………………………………………………………………70

Theoretical Perspective on Inequalities and Crime…………………………………..74


Inequality in the Criminal Justice System………………………………………….……..76

Large Racial Minority Imprisonment……………………………………………..……….80

Summary and Conclusion…………………………………………………………..………84

Application: Framework for Understanding Racial Minorities & Economically

Disadvantaged Offenders in the Criminal Justice System…………………………………88

Social Change: Racial Minorities and the Economically Disadvantaged in America………89

The Classical and Social Theories of Crime………………………………………………..90

Racial Minority, Economically Disadvantaged Offenders and the Courts’ System……….91

Discussion…………………………………………………………………………..………93

Conclusion……..………………………………………………………………………….106

References………………………………………………………………………………...107
Breadth

SBSF 8110: Principle of Societal Development

“A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to

suppress it. This new civilization brings with it new family styles, changed ways of working,

loving, and living, a new economy, new political conflicts…” (Alvin & Heidi Toffler, 1994.

p.1) The only thing that is changing constantly is change itself. Change is inevitable because

with the passing of time and the development of nature, everything along its path also changes.

There are different types of change. However, the change that has impacted the human

population the most is Social Change. Social Change is important because it has been the

primary driving force that has shaped and molded societies all across the world. To understand

why and how social change takes place, I will identify and investigate three major social change

theories developed or advanced by Spencer, Comte, Marx, and Parsons.

THEORIES OF SOCIAL CHANGE

The theories that will be examined are evolutionary theory, social conflict theory and

structural functional theory. Social change affects individuals and society in different ways,

thus, social change may mean different things to different people. Social change has brought

happiness and misery to America in many different ways. Social change has been a blessing to

many people because many lives have been enhanced and improved but for others also, social

change has been a misery and has brought untold hardship and challenges. However, to fully

understand the evolution of social change, we must recognize what social change is and the

forces that bring about social change.


Causes of Social Change

What is social change? What are the causes of social change? And how does social

change affect minorities and economically disadvantaged people in America? The Breadth part

of this KAM will explore and answer these questions, and it will also investigate how poverty

and social inequalities have been explained by evolutionary theorists, social conflict theorists,

and structural functional theorists. Secondly, it will compare the classical philosophies of

Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, and Talbott Parsons as they relate to poverty and

social inequality. Thirdly, it will also analyze the strengths and limitations of the theories of

social change of those authorities as they relate to the building of a fair and just society.

The Causes of social change for years have baffled great minds and social thinkers alike,

due to the drastic and observable social transformation both positive and negative taking place in

their eras. Macionis (2003) stated that social change involves the transformation of society

through its cultural and social institutions. Changes in social patterns like role, status, social

stratification, innovations, advancements in technological know-how, expansions of complex big

governments, and sprawling urban centers are all examples of social change. Additionally,

human ideas in the form of values, ideologies and beliefs, whether religious or secular, all have

the same tendency to bring about social change. Thus, even charismatic people with good ideas

can introduce social change into society even though sometimes they may be met with resistance

by the more conservative people who will wish to stay with the old ways of doing things.

However, at a later stage the ideas or an innovation gradually gains momentum and becomes

acceptable and adopted by some or all the members in a community, hence better mental

resources could also lead to social change. Social change, Macionis (2003) asserted, is always

accompanied by four major characteristics. The first major characteristic of a social change is a
constant change. Macionis claimed that, nothing ever remains permanent even though some

societies and cultures that are less materialistic experience change slower than technological

complex societies like America. Macionis (2003) said the second major characteristic of a social

change is that change is most often unplanned, even though it may be intentionally set in motion.

He explained that manufacturers and advertisers may lure people into buying the latest products

like an automobile without knowing the full future consequence of the social changes that

massive automobiles will bring on society.

Alvin & Heidi Toffler (1994) also asserted that, the human race has gone through great

waves of social change, each period mostly wiping out earlier cultures or civilizations and

substituting them with ways of life unthinkable to those who came before. For instance, scientists

have been able to genetically alter and even possibly find a solution to the production of new

human parts like the research being carried out with stem cells; something that was once

inconceivable by the previous generations. Nevertheless, society is also confronted with a

dilemma concerning the ethical issues surrounding its usage, because the full ramification or the

impact may not be known to society for some time. The third major characteristics associated

with social change is controversy, claimed Macionis (2003). According to him, social change

brings both good and bad consequences often leading to social conflicts, thus, the industrial

revolution for example was welcomed by capitalist societies because of its ability to increase

productivity and expand profit margins for investors. However, the downside was that workers

felt threatened knowing very well that continued change will eventually lead to the replacement

and reduction of human skills and physical labor. Consequently, workers were less enthusiastic

about cooperating towards full automation. Additionally, even among the American society itself

social change led to many social conflicts and created many social groups, ethnic groups, social
and civil rights movements as each sought to assert or protect its role in the ongoing social

transformation. Ethnic minority groups and social and civil rights movements are all elements

and a by-product of social change. Thus, people with a common interest also band together to

form social movements when it becomes apparent that they are being deprived of something they

hold dear to their heart. Moreover, social groups have the capacity to encourage or discourage

social change in a society. They could also pursue a radical social transformation of society or

just be a platform for partial reformation. The last major characteristic associated with social

change is its ability to create massive societal impact. Macionis (2003) pointed to clothing styles

and minor inventions as something of less significance than the invention of the personal

computer and the internet as something that has changed the world and will continue to change

the information revolution.

A society without the ability to conceive new ideas and change current patterns of

lifestyle could not survive even though human society could be stable. Hence, humans are

resilient and have the ability to adapt new ideas. Thus, the causes of social change differ from

society to society and certain factors in a society are more pronounced and dominant than others

to bring about social change. Human societies, for instance, have been analyzed to determine

that, they evolve and grow by passing through stages during their development. These stages are

nomadic, hunting and gathering, rural, agrarian, urban, commercial, industrial, and post-

industrial(Macionis, 2003). Marcionis (2003) pointed out that certain non materialistic cultures

are slow to change but in a materialistic society like the United States, materialistic factors, like

economic production and technology are some of the factors that bring about a change in society

very quickly. Furthermore, he said changes in technology may lead to new and more inventions.

In other words, innovations produce new objects, ideas, and expand society’s knowledge base.
Additionally, scientific and technological changes have led to the production of sophisticated

machinery including but not limited to the spacecraft. Moreover, advances made in medical

research and discoveries have led to a better understanding of the human body thereby extending

human life expectancy. However, these new opportunities also carry with them unforeseen

consequences, like the gradual or drastic shaping and altering of current social patterns and

structures of our human groupings.

Further advancement made in medicine has also led to population growth and longer life

span. Demographic patterns of migration from one part of a country to another part or even

between countries are also major factors attributed to social change. According to Macionis

(2003) from 1870 to 1930 tens of millions of people from other countries have settled in the

industrial cities of the United States. There was also an internal migration from the rural southern

agricultural producing areas to the newly industrialized cities. In 1910, 9 out of 10 African

Americans lived in the rural southern part of the United States. However, from1950 to 1970, the

number of African Americans living in the central cities has doubled from 6.6 million to 13.1

million (Shannon, R, T., Kleniewski, N, & Cross, M, W.1991). According to Shannon et al.

(1991) the single most significant cause for the movement for African Americans was that

employment prospects in Southern agriculture steadily declined during most of the century. They

stated that, “Mechanization of production and the changing of agriculture in the South were

eliminating the need for agricultural laborers and sharecroppers and making survival of the

small, independence black farmer more and more difficult” (p.31). Thus, the unintended

consequence of these migrations is cultural diffusion, and the decline of rural communities and

the urbanization of many American cities into metropolis. Consequently, a change in

demographic patterns has also led to social change.


Classical and Contemporary Social Change Theories

According to Patterson (1999) 2,500 years ago, the Greek social theorists characterized a

social change as growth. According to them, from an analogical point of view, social change and

biological change all have a fixed number of interacting parts and both develop through stages-

birth, youth, maturity, and senility. Patterson (1999) asserted that the flaw in this analogy is that

it fails to distinguish natural growth and unforeseen circumstances acting directly or indirectly on

the social organism. Additionally, an analogical theory of social change like this will only open

up further implications to various interpretations. Heraclitus (c.544-c.483 BC), believed that

social change was brought about by internal and external pressures or forces. Hence, external

force theory was based on the cosmological, meteorology, and celestial events as observed

through time immemorial. Likewise, the internal pressures or forces theory was also attributed to

the oneness and the compatibility of nature and human society. Additionally, the theory stated

that, human being form part of the latest cosmological chain thus, the cosmos and the evolution

of the city-state were self-creating, self-governing and self-contained (Patterson, 1999). Patterson

(1999) however, found this view not thoroughly satisfactory due to its materialist appeal.

Another classical and idealist social theorist Anaximander (c 610-546 BC) in Ionia also

claimed that the genesis of the world was brought about by a universal god who did not reside in

it. This view according to Patterson (1999) laid down the foundational debate of human society

and social change. For instance, Patterson said, the classical Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-

322 BC) added his voice to the debate stating that, the individual and the family are the origin of

a state which by nature is also an extension of the cosmos from which the state emerges. Thus,

Aristotle said the state could be studied scientifically just as the cosmos is studied. This view of
Aristotle had profound influence on mediaeval writers like St. Augustine’s (354-430) who wrote

and further advanced it in his acclaimed book, City of God, which was also partly based on the

Greek’s theory of a human and state cyclical view of birth, youth, maturity, and senility.

However, St. Augustine was only interested in the decaying aspect of the theory which he

believed would open up future possibilities of rebirth and growth marked by eternity of grace,

upright morality, justice, and service to humankind. Nevertheless, to achieve the goal of rebirth

and future growth, the Roman history must be reexamined from the theory of growth and decay,

and further extended to the formation of Rome when Romulus murdered his brother Remus, and

additionally, to the beginning of biblical times when Cain murdered Able (Patterson 1999).

St. Augustine’s theory of change and development led to further advancement of social

change known as Cyclical Renewal. Furthermore, Cyclical Renewal became a widely accepted

view in the western hemisphere until the beginning of the Renaissance. The beginning of the

Renaissance also ushered in some social theorists and commentators who wanted to find an

explanation, answers, and even new theory to explain the social upheavals of the time. Even

though, St. Augustine’s Judeo- Christian thoughts and theory of social change had also been

incorporated with the classical Greek and Roman views, nevertheless, the outcome still led to the

same theory of cyclical up and downs, reoccurring beyond the control of human nature. Hence,

this unsatisfactory trend quickly led to the erosion of the Augustinian dominant world view of

social change and development (Patterson 1999).

According to Patterson (1999) during the sixteenth-century social theorists came up with

another theory of social change in response to the civil wars, repressions, overseas expansions

and foreign land dominations. This theory was called Progress, and it was a complete deviation

from the classical and historical views of explaining social change. However, it also borrowed
from St. Augustine’s view of a more prosperous and optimistic future without the religious

aspect of it. Jean Bodin (1530-96) who was a political theorist, and an adviser to the King of

France, further advanced the theory of progress to formulate a universal historical analysis by

arguing that human history has been marked by three distinctive periods; each period reflecting

regional dominance, and people being more sophisticated than they were previously. Jean Bodin

claimed that, the Babylonians, Persians, and Egyptians controlled the world in the first two

millennia due to their advancement in religion, philosophy, mathematics and their understanding

of the forces of nature. Additionally, the Mediterranean people, Greeks and Romans also

dominated the world stage for the next two millennia due to their skills, crafts, gifted

statesmanship and political acumen. Finally, the Northern Nations also ruled the world due to

their warfare skills and their dominance in mechanical innovations. In other words, civilization

or social change as human progress can be traced historically and chronologically from, the early

Babylonians and Persians, to the Greeks and Romans, then to the Northern European States

before moving across the Atlantic to America(Patterson 1999). The theory of progress also

stated that if systematic reasoning is applied to the study of social change and development then

progress will be the ultimate outcome since customs and superstition could find no hiding place

to cripple society’s growth. Additionally, the theory also claimed that reason is abstract and does

not depend on internal or external bodies thus, with proper education in scientific enquiry; reason

will be a catalyst for progress. Frances Bacon (1561- 1626) and Descartes (1596-1650) were

among the intellectual forces behind reasoning as progress for social change. Bacon, believed

that reason, should be a scientific application towards the analysis of evidence to establish a

social fact. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) who was a leading Seventeenth century social theorist

of progress theory also defended reason as the ultimate inevitable goal because without reason,
there will be no industries, no inventions, no navigation, no infrastructure, no equipment, and no

advancement will be made in government rather there will be only fear, danger and violent death

(Patterson 1999). Alvin & Heidi Toffler (1994) also added that, before the first wave of social

change around 8000 B.C. to A.D 1650-1750, humans resided in small nomadic groups and fed

themselves by foraging, fishing, hunting, or herding. Then, the agricultural revolution

commenced and crawled slowly across the world.

Commencement of the eighteenth century also saw many critics and reactionaries to

Thomas Hobbes assertion of social change. This was due to his generalization that all societies

are the same and for that reason, patterns of social change must be the same. Gambattista Vico

(1688-1744) was a leading opponent of this view who eventually formulated an alternative view

to Hobbes. Vico argued that, “…this world of nations has certainly been made by men; it is

within these modifications that its principles should have been sought” (Patterson, p.15).

Furthermore, he claimed that the advancement of reasoning is not the engine of social change or

the development of every society. Vico, asserted that, social institutions were human inventions

that had gone through historical processes starting from huts, villages, cities and advanced

institutions like schools and governments. Therefore, social change is rather part of an historical

developmental dialectics (Patterson 1999). Nisbet (1969) on the other hand, also noted that, the

objective of investigation in any theory of societal development seems to be consistently linked

to social class, kinship, tradition, law, society as a whole or other categorization of

institutionalized and ordered behavior.

Jean Rousseau (1712-78) in the Discourse on the origin of Inequality, agreed that

humanity and society can be studied systematically since it will also make room to examine the

original nature of humankind thus, showing that humans originally depended on nature solely for
their upkeep not the social and political organizations currently existing, which has led to social

inequalities. Rousseau used the term amour-propre to denote a love for oneself and the desire to

be superior to others and be respected and cherished by them. He claimed this to be the

beginning of social inequality. Moreover, Rousseau said, social inequality was very rare in the

advent of human history thus, with the development of mechanical agriculture; people began to

fence agricultural lands hence, the formation and development of private property. According to

Rousseau, this gave birth to personal wealth and powerful landlords’ thereby destroying people’s

natural liberty through the subjugation of the masses to constant physical labor, slavery and

human misery (Patterson 1999).

On the other hand, to counteract Rousseau’s growing intellectual influence on human

development, Adam Smith (1723-1790) claimed that the rise of commercial society is also a

historical process noting that, humankind progressed through subsistence production- hunting

and gathering, then to domesticating animals and becoming pastoral this process continued and

the division of labor became more sophisticated. To stay above the fray, Smith tried to separate

economics from politics and morality, by claiming that he was more interested on how the

human division of labor could be harnessed to enhance productivity in an emerging capitalistic

society. Smith further said this process of the division of labor could lead to less people

producing more food thereby enabling some people to move on to towns to learn and practice

new trades that could also be utilized in the exchange market (Patterson, 1999). Additionally, to

help address the issue of workers’ exploitation as argued by some leading opponents, Smith

wrote in, The Wealth of Nations, “Capitalists derived their income from stock, landowners from

rent and laborers from wages” (Patterson, p.18).


As noted and discussed above, theories of Social Change are complex phenomena which

great social thinkers like Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Comte, Spencer, and Parsons have argued

about. Nisbet (1980) also observed that, “…Mankind has slowly, gradually and continually

advanced from the original condition of deprivation, ignorance, and insecurity to constantly

higher levels of civilization, and that such advancement will, with only occasional setbacks,

continue through the present into the future” (p.10) The observation, noted by Nisbet, (1980) that

society will continue to advance slowly, gradually from deprivation, ignorance, insecurity and

with setbacks is one of the reasons that led to the serious scientific study of society and social

change. The scientific inquiry of social change became the center of sociological inquiry for

most social theorists. Patterson (1999) asserted that, social theorists of the late nineteenth century

all tried to explain, redefine, and refine the theories of social change based on the ideas and

concepts which were handed over to them from the previous intellectual generation. However,

there were few notable exceptions like Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Auguste

Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Talbott Parsons who actually came up with well grounded theories

and explanations to social change. Marx (1955) however, divided history into five major stages:

(1) Tribal ownership, a type of primitive communism.

(2) Ancient communal and state ownership accompanied by slavery.

(3) Feudalism

(4) Capitalism.

Communism: Marx, divided communism into two, one is a dictatorship of the proletariat and the

other, pure communism. According to Marx, except for pure communism, each stage is

distinguished by economic conflict involving two or more contrasting economic groups with the

separate opposing economic interest. The economic disagreement between these groups
inevitably leads to the advancement of a group in their own interest at the expense of other

groups (Marx, 1955). According to Patterson, nineteenth- and twentieth- century social theorists’

understanding of social change was mostly influenced by the emergence of materialist or

capitalist development and an agenda of idealism or imperialism. Furthermore, these influences

have lingered on to this day.

Evolutionary Theories

A number of theories of social change have been introduced above, but the first major

social change theory to be examined thoroughly is evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory

includes many schools of thought with each trying to explain the theory differently. According to

Patterson (1999) evolutionary theory did not have its origin from Charles Darwin (1809-82) as

many have mistakenly believed but rather from the work of other contemporaries in France and

Scotland like Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus (1766-1834).

Social evolutionists saw a social change as an engine of progress and development and

claimed that progress is inevitable because of the successive stages it has undergone in its

intellectual and social development. The concept of evolution was utilized to explain virtually all

forms of human development from sociology to biology. Among the leading evolutionary

biologists was Charles Darwin. Darwin’s theory on natural selection assumes the foundational

basis for explaining biological evolution.

According to social evolutionists, society proceeds inevitably through a fixed set of

stages - savagery, barbarism and civilization. To them, evolution is a natural law and the term

evolution is used to signify the processes and stages of social development that humankind has

evolved through. The social evolutionists also claimed that, even though humankind everywhere

is subjected to the same natural order, progress, and development on a global scale has not
always progressed at the same pace. According to social evolutionist, the so-called civilized

societies have been exposed to greater change and interaction with other civilized societies

resulting in faster progressed (Patterson 1999).

Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English engineer and a popular writer who believed that

human society, nature and the universe are all governed or subjected to the laws of progress or

evolution. Duncan, (2003) stated that, Spencer believed that the evolution of human society and

the rise of civilization were laws driven however; each society has the right to achieve the

highest degree of happiness provided; they do not prevent others from doing the same. Spencer

believes that this is also a natural law of the world. According to Duncan (2003), Spencer

believed that, evolutional process is twofold: One it builds up complex structures through the

process of integration, and two, through the process of the dissolution of weakened structural

remains. Thus, evolution is seen by Spencer as aggregation, differentiation, integration, and

dissolution (Duncan, 2003).

Herbert Spencer argued that there is a correlation between the social realm, biological

realms, and the physical realm, and that they are all subjected to natural laws. He further

explained that there are laws that need to be discovered, and sociology should be the main

vehicle for uncovering morphology or structures and the physiology of all organic and super -

organic forms in society. He also claimed that structures and functions are common in all organic

bodies (Spencer, 1892).

Spencer (1892) said, several important factors will propel and influence small and

homogeneous societies to become large and complex. Spencer employs an organic analogy or

the comparing of body parts and super-organic societal organization to develop a perspective for
analyzing the structure, function, and transformation of societal phenomena. Elwick, (2003) in

his article, Herbert Spencer and the Disunity of Social Organism, identified the correlations

Spencer drew in the evolutionary process of the entire realm of the universe. First, he pointed to

the similarities between societies and bodily organizations as follows:

1. Society and organisms both can be differentiated from inorganic matter because society and

organisms all grow and develop, whereas inorganic matter does not.

2. Both society and organisms all grow and increase in size and become complex which in turn

leads to differentiation.

3. Both society and organisms progress in growth, differentiation and structural functions.

4. Equally, society and organism’s parts are interdependent. However; a change in one part

affects the other parts.

5. They both represent a part micro society or organism, in and of itself.

6. Both organisms and societies as a whole could be subjected to destruction but some parts

will survive and live on for a while (Elwick, 2003).

Auguste Comte and the Laws of Three States

The French social thinker Auguste Comte (1798-1857) is credited for coining the term

sociology in 1838 to describe the new school of thought for the study of society. Comte divided

sociology into three stages of historical development starting with a theological stage when

people used religion to explain everything happening in society. In the European Middle Ages of

Renaissance so called Metaphysical thoughts took over. The Metaphysical stage sought to

explain the world from a natural perspective instead of attributing it to super natural forces.

According to Comte, the final stage was the scientific stage when things began to be explained

from a scientific point of view. Comte said that society is neither fixed by God’s will nor set by
human nature. Comte, on the contrary, claimed that society is a system that can be studied

scientifically as did the sixteenth-century Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543),

the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo (1564-1642) and the English physicist and

mathematician Isaac Newtown (1642-1727). Comte asserted that humans can carefully study the

world and based on the results can intentionally improve their lives (Macionis, 2003).

Based on the foundational work of these early scientists, Comte believed that a scientific

approach could be utilized to analyze the physical world, especially the study of this new

discipline he called sociology, which is the study of society. In view of this fact, Augustus

Comte became a strong proponent of positivism- using science to analyze or study the physical

world. Comte believed that society also functioned through certain unknown laws, just as the

universe operates under the influence of gravity and other laws of nature. Macionis (2003)

claimed that, Comte’s new science of society was to both explain the past development of

humankind and, as well, have the ability to predict its future course. Social stability according to

Comte can be attributed to certain conditions at any given historical time. The motto of Comte’s

positive movement was Order and Progress. The society of man, according to Comte, must be

studied in a scientific manner just as the world of nature is also subjected to basic laws like the

rest of the cosmos, even though it presence added more complexities. Natural science Comte

argued had succeeded in establishing the lawfulness of natural phenomena and has also

discovered that these phenomena from the falling of stone, to the movement of planets all

followed ordered sequences of development in the world of nature. Hence, science had

succeeded in progressively contracting the realm of the apparently non- ordered, the fortuitous

and the accidental. According to Comte, the stage was set for a similar endeavor in the study of

society (Comte, 1915). According to Comte, the new science must be able to benefit humankind
and play a major role in the amelioration of the human conditions. Thus, for humans to transform

their nonhuman environment to their advantage Comte argued that, civilization had progressed

through a natural and logically unavoidable course of human organizations and had become the

supreme law of all practical phenomena (Comte, 1915).

Karl Marx and Conflict Theory

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Rhineland, Germany and was a leading proponent of the

conflict theory paradigm. The Social conflict theory states that social behavior can be understood

in terms of tension and conflict between groups and individuals. According to the theory, society

is seen as a platform showcasing social inequality and struggle over scarce commodities, hence

generating both conflict and change (Macionis, 2003). Conflict theory assumes that structural

differentiation is one of the major sources of conflict in a society and social change is also

brought about through conflict. Social conflict theory study, to understand societal conflicts

between dominant and categories of minority groups: rich versus the economically

disadvantaged, White people in relation to people of color. Karl Marx stated that all stratified

societies have two major social grouping made up of a ruling class who controls, exploits and the

oppressed who is the working class thus, there is always a conflict of interest between the two

classes. Marx, furthermore, asserted that, the various established institutions like the legal and

political frameworks are all tools and instruments employed by the ruling class to serve and

further their own goals and protect their interests (Marx, 1955).

Marx claimed that conflict is a normal condition of social life whose nature and variables

are very important to be described and analyzed by social scientists. Marx also sees social

change from an evolutionary point because human history has gone through a succession of

models: tribal, ancient, feudal, and to the present capitalist mode of production. Marx further saw
private property as the central point of focus for capitalism: the system by which the factors of

production like money, tools, machinery, factories, industries, and other items used for

production in the hands of the elite class (Marx1959). Furthermore, Karl Marx also saw

capitalism to be superseded by a socialist mode of production in the future. Nevertheless, Marx

was also concerned about the plight of the working masses that also happens to be the poorest.

Having observed the worker for some time, Karl Marx points to alienations as the effect and the

result of the separation between the worker and the product of his labor under the capitalist labor

relations (Marx, 1959). Karl Marx pointed out that in every stage of a society’s historical

development economics becomes the bedrock which he terms, the mode of production of

commodities. According to Marx, the first stage in the mode of production is the force of

production or the physical or technological arrangement of economic activity. He postulated that,

the second stage is the social relations of production or the indispensable human attachments that

people must form with one another in carrying out this economic activity. Marx, furthermore,

stated that the mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social,

political, and spiritual processes of life. Thus, at a certain point of development the material

forces of production in society come into conflict with the existing relations of production

(Marx, 1959). Marx (1959) furthermore, wrote in The Communist Manifesto that, “The

bourgeoisie (i.e., the capitalists) cannot exist without continually revolutionizing the instruments

of production, and thereby the relationships of production and with them the whole relations of

society…” (p. 70).

Finally, Marx said, no one person or group could stop a revolution from occurring since a

conflict is a necessary means of social change and social survival. He also pointed to a series of

events that would bring about the ultimate proletariat revolution as follows: (a) need for
production (b) the expansion of the division of labor (c) the development of private property (d)

increasing social inequality (e) class struggle, and (f) creation of political structures to represent

each class interest (Marx, 1955).

Structural Functional Theory

Structural functional theory states that society operates through a complex system of

interdependent parts that work to increase stability. Structural Functionalism framework depends

on social structures and social functions to operate in equilibrium. According to the theory, a

change in one part of the system generally affects the other parts of the system (Spencer, 1892)

Structural functionalism is also an evolutionary model with a cyclical beginning with

differentiations and increasing complication of an organic body, followed by a fluctuating state

of equilibrium or disequilibrium and finally a state of disintegration or dissolution (Spencer,

1892). Structural-functionalism is a broad perspective with very diverse theorists who consider,

order, stability and collaboration within a society as a value consensus. Sociologists of the

structural-functional theory usually divide or separate the latent function and the manifest

functions of social relationship. According to Macionis (2003) manifest functions are built into a

social system by design and manifest goals are well understood by group members. Latent

functions are by contrast unintentional and very often unrecognized due to the unanticipated

consequences they might have achieved other than what they set up to achieve.

Auguste Comte is well known as a positivist, but he is also equally known as a structural-

functionalist, especially on his views on maintaining strong central solidity, order and progress

after witnessing the social outcome of the French revolution. Comte realized that social systems

must have a spontaneous harmony between all parts of the system to maintain equilibrium;

however, the lack of such harmony will eventually lead to disequilibrium (Comte, 1915). Emile
Durkheim, was the most important and respected structural-functionalist who developed the full

theory of organic solidarity. Durkheim was also curious as to why certain societies maintain

internal stability and survive over time. His answer was that these societies have been segmented

with equivalent parts held together by shared values and common symbols. Herbert Spencer is

probably one of the truest structural-functionalists even though he is best noted for evolutionary

theory. According to Spencer, just like the human body and its noted parts and organs, society

also has social structures that must work towards its proper functioning (Spencer 1892). Herbert

Spencer’s work, The Principle of Sociology (1874- 96) has influenced many contemporary

theorists notable among them was Talcott Parsons.

Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons is best known for structural functional theory. Parsons was also

influenced by the writings of Durkheim and Marx Weber, which can be seen in his work, the

action theory. The action theory is based on the system-theoretical concept and the

methodological principle of voluntary action. According to Parsons, social systems are made up

by individuals in a society, thus there are also interactions between individuals who may be

confronted with a variety of choices. How they respond to each one of these choices is

influenced by a number of physical and social factors. The action theory’s aim is to create

equilibrium between the two major methodologies of utilitarian-positivism and hermeneutic-

idealism. Parsons’ theoretical system was centered on equilibrium, evolutionary universalities,

and the identification of properties that are common to all societies. Parsons compared a societal

evolution to biological evolution with modern societies showing greater ability to adapt than

previous generations. According to Parsons, a society is more or less like biological systems with

its natural counterparts. Thus, social systems have evolved historically towards greater
adjustment of the systemic order and improving the specialization of social institutions including

the upgrading of the division of labor existing in complex societies (Parsons, 1964).

Parsons (1964) believed that order, stability and cooperation in society are based on value

consensus generally agreed upon by members of society concerning what is good and

worthwhile. Parsons stated that for a society to survive or maintain an equilibrium in its

environment, it must learn to some degree to adapt (Adaptation) to that environment and also

attain its goals (Goal Attainment), integrate its components (Integration), and maintain its latent

pattern (Latency Pattern Maintenance), which serve as cultural blueprints. Parsons (1964) stated

that in every society people take up positions and enact roles associated with the positions; and in

an advance modern society, the roles become complex differentiated in the division of labor.

Summary and Analysis

According to social evolutionists, society proceeds inevitably through a fixed set of

stages- savagery, barbarism and civilization. To them, evolution is a natural law, and the

expression evolution is used to signify the processes and stages of social development that

humankind has evolved through. The social evolutionists also claimed that, even though humans

everywhere are subjected to the same natural order of progress and development on a global

scale which are slow but steady, civilized societies have the ability to progress faster than less

civilized ones. Herbert Spencer also emphasized that certain principle of structure and function

are common in all organic bodies. In the volumes of Principles of Sociology, Spencer stated that

whenever there is an increase in the size of both biological and social aggregates, pressure for

differentiation of functions occurs. Spencer further noted that, these result in the creation of a

distinctive regulatory, operative, and distributive process. Thus, it becomes essential for some
unit to regulate and control action, for others to produce what is necessary for system

maintenance (Spencer, 1893).

Evolutional theory explains poverty and social inequality as a natural law based on the

biological principle of natural selection of the human species’ ability to adapt. Herbert Spencer

believes in the rights of the individual and does not believe in government intervention. Spencer

believes that, the only power government should have is the protection of the rights of

individuals and collective protection against an external threat. However, if there should be any

external regulation by governments it should be minimal and everything else must be left to the

free initiatives of individuals. Spencer also made it clear in his geopolitical dynamics that, when

power is concentrated in the hands of the few or the government, it could be used to drain the

wealth and resources of a population which eventually will lead to further inequality in a society.

Spencer claimed that those with concerted power for instance could use it to tax or take resources

from others to finance a war (or in today’s era pay for social services) and supplement their

privilege, this, he believes will also lead to more social inequality. Spencer believed that once

resources are taken from people they become more hostile, which eventually poses an internal

threat to the elite who then tends to further harness the more power to deal with the escalating

threat. Spencer, felt that this cycle of escalating social inequality and internal threat would often

and potentially lead to the disintegration of a society (Spencer 1893). According to social

conflict theory society is seen as a platform showcasing social inequality and struggle over

scarce commodity, therefore, generating both conflict and change (Macionis, 2003).

Conflict theorists explain that social inequality and poverty are the results of structural

differentiation in a society. As a result, it is a major source of conflict in all societies hence social

change is brought about through conflict. Social conflict theorists analyze and study social
inequality and poverty through the ongoing social conflicts between dominant categories of

minority groups: rich versus the economically disadvantaged, White people in relation to people

of color. Karl Marx stated that all stratified societies have two major social groupings, a working

class and a ruling class, who controls, exploits and oppresses the working class. Thus, there is

always a conflict of interest between the two classes. Marx, further asserted that, the various

established institutions like the legal and political frameworks are tools and instruments

employed by the ruling class to serve and further their own goals and protect their interest (Marx,

1955). Marx, Furthermore, explained social inequality and poverty as the results of private

property being the central point of focus for capitalism. He identified private enterprise as, the

system by which the factors of production like money, tools, machinery, factories, industries, and

other items used for production are in the hands of the elite class (Marx, 1959). Marx’s conflict

theory was concerned about social inequality and poverty, especially the plight of the working

masses that happen to be the poorest. Karl Marx, having observed the worker for some time,

points to alienations as the effect and the result of the separation between the worker and the

product of his labor under the capitalist labor relations (Marx, 1959).

Structural functional theory explained social inequality and poverty as part of social

stratification based on meritocracy that keeps society operating. Structural functionalists believe

that society as a whole benefits when greater rewards are linked to important social positions.

Structural functionalists stressed that social stratification matches people’s ability and talents to

appropriate occupational positions, which they believe are very useful and inevitable.

Furthermore, structural functionalists claimed that the values and beliefs that legitimize social

inequality are widely shared throughout society. According to Parsons, social systems are made

up by individuals in a society, thus there is an interaction between individuals who may be


confronted with a variety of choices and how they respond to them is a choice they must make,

even though these choices may be influenced, constrained by various numbers of physical and

social factors.

The aim of Parsons’ action theory is to create equilibrium between two major

methodological traditions of utilitarian-positivism and the hermeneutic-idealistic tradition.

Parsons’ theoretical system was centered on equilibrium, evolutionary universalities, and the

identification of properties that are common to all societies; Parsons compared the societal

evolution to biological evolution but acknowledges that modern societies show a greater ability

to adapt than previous generations. According to Parsons, a society is like a system with

biological and natural counterparts. Therefore, social systems have evolved historically towards

greater adjustment to maintain a systemic order and to improve the specialization of social

institutions, including the upgrading of the division of labor existing in complex societies

(Parsons, 1964). Parsons (1964) believed that order, stability and cooperation in society are

based on a value consensus generally agreed upon by members of society concerning what is

good and worthwhile.

Auguste Comte to some extent touched on poverty and social inequality when he asserted

that systems must have a spontaneous harmony between all their parts to maintain equilibrium;

however, the lack of such harmony will eventually lead to disequilibrium of the system.

According to Comte, the new science must be able to benefit humankind and play a major role in

the amelioration of the human conditions including poverty and social inequality. Comte also

believed in the principle, that the division of labor fostered the development of individual gifts

and capabilities and creates a sense of dependability on each other, he was, however, bothered by

what he considered the negative aspects of modern industrial division of labor. Finally,
contemporary structural functionalists like Robert K. Merton added that social inequality and

poverty are the results of social structures with many functions. According to Merton, manifest

functions are those built into a social system by design; like manifest goals which are well

understood by group members. Latent functions are by contrast, unintentional and often

unrecognized. However, they carry unanticipated consequences to the system that has been set

up to achieve other ends. Thus, social inequality and poverty would be the eventual outcome of

latent functions

(Macionis, 2003)

Differences and Similarities

In order to compare the classical social theories of Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte,

Karl Marx, and Talcott Parsons, it is necessary to identify the social theory they represent.

Herbert Spencer is well known as a social evolutionary theorist. Auguste Comte is a positivist

who is also known as a social evolutional theorist due to his formulation of the Law of Three

States, but he is best known as a structural functionalist. Karl Marx is known to some extent for

his conviction in evolutional theory. He is especially known as a social conflict theorist. Talcott

Parsons is known as a structural functionalist. Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte, and Talcott

Parsons all believe that evolutionary social change follows a natural law. Spencer believed that

the process of societal evolution followed inevitable laws of nature, which eventually led to

social progress. Comte also argued that, civilization had progressed through a natural and logical

unavoidable course of human organization and had become the supreme law of all practical

phenomena. Comte believed there to be three laws, which operate to foster societal growth. The
first law was theological, the second was metaphysical, and the third scientific. In each phase,

some level of dominance is achieved.

Parsons compared a societal evolution to biological evolution with modern societies

showing greater ability to adapt than previous generations. Parsons had similar ideas to Spencer

because they both believed that individuals must have the right to pursue their respective interest

voluntarily. Both Parsons and Spencer believed that social differentiations and stratification are a

natural social out come. However, in contrast, Spencer does not believe in a strong central

government and does not believe in government interventions except to protect individual

liberties and against external aggression. Auguste Comte, on the other hand, believed in a strong

central social order and submissiveness that will ultimately lead to progress, but was also

concerned about the conditions of the working poor who happened to be the masses. Comte,

furthermore, has something in common with Parsons, they both believe in social stratification

and the meritocracy system.

Karl Marx’s conflict theory rejects and denounces both the evolutionary and structural

functional theories as systems based on classes and exploitation. However, he does have

something in common with Spencer’s social evolutionary theory. Marx believed that human

history has gone through a succession of models: tribal, ancient, feudal, and to the present

capitalist mode of production. Marx concluded that this progression would continue with

capitalism being superseded by a socialist mode of production. Marx‘s ideas, do have something

in common with those of Auguste Comte, they were both concerned with the conditions of the

working poor and wanted to do something to improve them. Comte, however, did not share

Marx’s views of violent workers revolting in order to correct social conditions or the historical

succession models which eventually will bring about a socialist mode of production.
Comte also believes in the class and meritocracy system, since he asserted that people

with talents and advanced knowledge would work to make society better thus benefiting society

as a whole. Marx’s Conflict theory is in sharp contrast with Spencer’s evolutional theory and

Parsons’ structural functional theory in that, according to Marx, social inequality and social

stratification lead to social conflict. Consequently, the future would eventually be corrected when

a socialist mode of operation existed to administer equal rights and justice to all.

In reality, however, societal evolution has resulted in the creation of social stratification,

social inequality and a vast number of poor underclass citizens. Moreover, it has in addition

limited the powers of the government to regulate, change and promote equity. Despite the

present inequality, the strength of structural functionalism lies in the fact that people are

rewarded based on the work they do, and it does encourage productivity and efficiency. The

consequence of social stratification are extreme on some groups of people, especially racial

minorities and the economically disadvantaged who are denied access to certain opportunities

that would enable them to compete fairly, thereby uplifting their social standing. For example,

children of rich parents do not have to compete equally with children of poor parents. Rich

parents do send their children to rich and good schools, whereas most poor parents send their

children to poor and ill prepared schools.

Finally, social stratification promotes social conflicts and does not help in building a fair

and just society. Social conflict theory’s strength lies in the fact that it sought to build a fair and a

just society. Ideally, it is the best social theory that could be employed in building a fair and just

society. This is because its aim is to abolish social stratification and racial discrimination, as they

impact on those who are disadvantaged by their social circumstances. Moreover, conflict theory

sees everything from the perspective of a two class system of rich and poor, but in reality, there
are other factors, which may contribute to people’s successes and failures in life that has nothing

to do with class or race. Marx’s simplistic views of class structures are valid to some extent

because society has evolved and has become more complex than it was. Thus, there are certain

dynamics at play, which call on people to address their own deficiencies, inefficiencies and

weaknesses.

On the other hand, to build a just and fair society, we may need to blend the three theories

discussed. However, based on the knowledge presently at hand, I may recommend using more of

the Marxist social conflict paradigm in order to address the social inequalities and the vast social

stratification that has been created by the current system being used namely, evolutional and

structural functionalism. We must also give credit where credit is due and recognize the fact that

human competitiveness and personal responsibilities have played a vital role in societal

development and progress.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that the social evolutional and structural functional theories have

produced the most successful models of capitalism in the world. Additionally, they have also

made the United States the richest capitalist nation in the western world but at the expense of

several of its inhabitants, especially racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged.

Conflict theory has not alleviated the problems of the masses and has led to the collapse of many

Eastern European Countries, especially the former Soviet Union.

What do contemporary researchers’ think of social evolutionary theory, structural

functional theory, and social conflict theory? Do they believe these theories are still valid? It is

for current researchers in the field of criminal justice to try to resolve social inequality. In the

Depth paper which follows the extent to which they have been successful will be examined.
Depth

SBSF 8120: Current Research in Societal Development


Annotated Bibliography

Anonymous (2006). Oklahoma: 38% of adult blacks have felony records. Corrections Digest;
Dec 1, 2006; 37 (47); Criminal Justice Periodicals pp. 6-7.

According to the Oklahoma Sentencing Commission, 38% of black adult men in the State

of Oklahoma have been convicted of a felony however only less than 9% of all citizens of

Oklahoma had felony records. The data were collected from Oklahoma’s prison system by the

commission and the analysis was done using data dating as far back before statehood.

Additional data were also collected from census and mortality rate. The commissioner, K.C.

Moon concluded that the high percentage rate of African Americans with felony convictions was

not due to racism but instead, poverty. He also pointed out that conviction rates among the two

races are about even. However, he asserted that previous research confirms the fact that it is

more of a socio-economic problem than of race and discrimination.

In an assessment of the above article, it can be concluded that the research is very

significant, and is well framed. Additionally, the research is much related to an existing body of

knowledge about the unequal treatment of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged

offenders under the criminal justice system.

The theoretical framework of the study was adequate and appropriate whilst the sample

size of the study was sufficient because the data were collected from all the prisons in Oklahoma

and mortality rates were in addition collected from census records. Many details of the research

were not given. However, the result was published in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal, which

gave it much credibility status. The research could be duplicated in other states but the results

may vary due to different conditions in every state. Thus, the results may not be universally

applicable. There may also be a limitation to the research because it focused mainly on felony

cases and adult black men in particular as a result leaving out other racial minorities.
Consequently, it is more likely that there may be room for researcher bias. Nevertheless, the

research considered the existence of different socio-economic and cultural groups by indicating

that the research results from the outcome was produced and influenced more by socio-economic

factors than by race. The article written about the research was very short and does not provide

much information to make a very constructive analysis. However, the topic and the research in

particular are very relevant to the issue of race relations in America. The research also points to

the issue of social inequality and the plight of the economically disadvantaged people under the

criminal justice system. Furthermore, this research also serves as a wake-up call to scholars and

practitioners to come to terms with the delicate issue of race and poverty in America, especially

how it affects the criminal justice system in particular. This research is very valuable to me as a

scholar-practitioner because it will help me advance my argument for building a fair and just

society in America.

Button M.D (2008). Social disadvantage and family violence: neighborhood effects on attitudes
ab...American Journal of Criminal Justice: AJCJ; 33, 1; Criminal Justice Periodicals,
pp. 290-293

The author’s purpose for the research was to analyze the effect of social disorganization

theory on crime and collective efficacy, in addition to the individual factors of gender, race and a

history of child maltreatment, on the acceptance of using violence within the family. The author

defined social disorganization theory as the inability of a community structure to realize the

common values of its residents and maintain an effective social control. According to the

researcher, social disorganization theory asserts that neighborhood composition affects the level

of violence within the community. Data for the research was collected from the Norfolk Police

Department (2000-2004). Additional data were also collected from the 2000 census and from the
2006 Norfolk residents’ attitude about a crime survey to determine the differences in approval of

family violence.

Button asserted that, social disorganization theory has been used to indicate the eruption

of violence within local communities. Furthermore, there are certain indicators, which make a

neighborhood to be labeled as socially disorganized. These include the presence of concentration

of economically disadvantaged people, ethnic heterogeneity and residential instability.

Moreover, such neighborhoods have the lowest incomes, increased rates of unemployment, lack

of institutional investment, inadequate resources and financial support. Additionally, in such

communities, institutions such as Churches, Schools, and Community organizations struggle to

prosper and lose the ability to exercise control over the community. Button claimed that, there is

an indirect effect of economic deprivation in such communities.

The researcher asserted that in such a socially disorganized community, the

neighborhood socio-economic status has been affected negatively to link its residential stability

and its ethnic heterogeneity. The results of the study found that race did not significantly predict

intimate partner violence when other factors are controlled like income and education. The

results also found that, there was a negative correlation between family income and intimate

partner violence. However, inadequate education was found to be a contributing factor.

The above research question was not well framed, because it sought to answer too many

questions within the same research. For instance, the topic: Social Disadvantage and Family

Violence: Neighborhood Effects on Attitude about intimate Partner Violence and Corporal

Punishment/Violence of Children could have been without the children in order to concentrate on

intimate partners as the family involved in the study. The study as a whole was very significant

because it points to the effect of poverty and social inequality and to a large extent why many
poor and less educated people may end up becoming victims of the criminal justice system. The

research contributes to an existing body of knowledge because it will help policy makers, social

workers and criminal justice practitioners to understand the dynamic interplay between social

inequality, poverty and racism as a social manifestation. The research was well communicated

and the methods used were appropriate. The researcher used interviewers, and also made sure

that questionnaires were hand delivered in enclosed, self-addressed stamped envelopes to

selected households.

Additionally, the researcher also used the 2006 Norfolk, Virginia Residents Attitude

towards crime survey to achieve the respondent rate of 20.9%, the 2000 decennial census data,

and the 2000-2004 Norfolk Police data. The data and the sample size were adequate enough for

the study to be conclusive. However, there could be a better way for the researcher to obtain a

more convincing result. Furthermore, there were not enough controls in place to prevent a

researcher’s personal bias. The research could be replicable with similar findings but there were

also limitations to the study. The findings are not universally applicable because only selected

neighborhoods were used. The conclusions are, however, justifiable and the author also took into

account the racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and family structures by using census data, police data

and neighborhood survey data, which comprises of the demographic make-up of the community.

The research was very useful because it lends itself to the three social theories examined

in the breadth: Social evolutional theory, Structural-functional theory, and the Social Conflict

theory. It shows that social evolutional theory and structural functional theories are still valid and

being used in our society, whereas conflict theory serves as a reminder pointing to social

structures and social inequality as the source of conflict and poverty in our society. The value of
this research to my paper is that, it has shed light on the three social theories that I have

examined in the Breadth portion of this paper.

Hannon, L., & Knapp, P. (2003). Reassessing nonlinearity in the urban disadvantaged /violent
crime relationship. Criminology; 41, (4); Criminal Justice Periodicals, pp. 1427-1448.

This research was in response to the increasing concerns and doubts about nonlinear

relationships and interaction effects. The authors claimed that some research and studies suggest

positive correlation between neighborhood disadvantage and violent crime; whereas other

research also indicates that there is a negative relationship between neighborhood disadvantage

and violent crime. According to the writers, these inconsistencies are due partially to the lack of

logarithmic transformation in criminological research. The authors, claimed that though,

logarithmic transformation has lots of benefits, there are also drawbacks. The authors asserted

that, a recent research done by Krivo and Peterson (1996:620) supported their idea that there is a

positive correlation between socioeconomic disadvantage and crime which disadvantage

neighborhoods. Additionally, there was also an unusually high crime rate in comparison to

neighborhoods with a relatively moderate or low level of socioeconomic disadvantage.

The research question was well framed and will be very significant to sociologists,

criminologists, and policy makers because it will put to rest their increasing concern about the

inconsistencies in the logarithmic transformation. Furthermore, this research is also related to an

existing body of knowledge, and in addition makes an original contribution due to the

importance it placed on the methodological discrepancies and how they have eventually been

cleared. The theoretical framework for the study was adequate and appropriate, and it was well

communicated. The conclusions were justifiable by the results. Race and ethnicity were also
taken into consideration. The authors suggested that log transformation has a powerful side effect

thus; it should not be used as a common practice because it deserves a more thorough

justification.

The research is very valuable to me and to this research because it indicates that there is a

strong positive correlation between extreme urban disadvantage and violent crime in our society.

Thus, reducing extreme poverty or partially bridging the inequality and urban poverty gap will

go a long way in reducing violent crimes in our cities and society at large. This research is also

unique because it exposes the bias in using log transformation for research on a nonlinear

relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and violent crime.

Holtfreter, K., Reisig, M. D., & Morash, M. (2004). Poverty, State capital, and recidivism among
women offenders. Criminology & Public Policy: Criminal Justice Periodicals 04; (3), 2;
pp. 185-208

This study focuses on the effect of poverty and state aid to women offenders and

recidivism. The researchers used 134 female felony offenders from the community corrections in

the State of Oregon and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota to do a self report of

re-arrested and probation or violations over six-month time periods. According to the

researchers, the results of the study based on logistic regression analyses indicate that poverty

status increases the probability of those re-arrested by a factor of 4.6, and it increases the odds of

supervised violation by a factor of 12.7. However, risk scores like poverty status failed to predict

recidivism once poverty status was taken into account. The research also found out that

specifically among poor women offenders, providing state-sponsored support to address short-

term needs like housing reduces the chances of recidivism by 83%. Thus, community

corrections’ officers who help make state capital available promote empowerment for women

and reduce the odds of recidivism among women. Finally, after assessing the influence poverty
has on recidivism among women offenders, the researchers concluded that, economically

marginalized offenders should be made to benefit from state sponsored resources.

The article is very important because the researchers’ point to the fact that in 2001, over

half of all (52%) of the 32.9 million people (including children) living in poverty were women,

and a similar proportion (49%) of families living below the poverty line were headed by single

women. The researchers further added that, compared with both developed and transitional

economies, the United States has the highest poverty rate for female-headed households and the

largest gender gap related to poverty. The research also relates to an existing body of knowledge

about high rates of racial minority recidivism. Thus, this research seeks to explain why the

recidivism rates are very high among minorities. However, this research in particular focuses on

the high recidivism for three years among women felony offenders. The research was also well

framed and well communicated. The method used was appropriate and the sample size was

sufficient enough to justify the conclusion of the results. The research is replicable and

applicable to sociologists, criminologists, and policy makers in general. Personally, I see this

research to be very valuable to my own research because the results indicate that, poverty is a

major contributing factor to criminal behavior.

Hojman, D. (2003). Inequality, unemployment and crime in Latin American cities:


Crime, Law & Social Change. pp. 33-51

This article talks about Inequality, unemployment and the incidence of high rates of

crime in Latin American cities, and how violent crime in particular is out of control. The writer

said many researchers and scholars have touched on the causes of crime in Latin American cities.

However, there is no consensus since others claimed that there is the lack of deterrence whilst
others debate that there is too much poverty and inequality within the society. However, there is

one thing that is agreed on, and that is regardless of the behavioral parameter values, deterrence

does not work in Latin America due to official incompetence and corruption of law enforcement

personnel, a weak judiciary and a problem ridden prison system. Another important factor the

writer touched on is diversity between and within cities. The author argued that in Latin

America.

The decision to commit a crime depends on deterrence and on any legal or legitimate

alternative. The former includes: (1) number of police available within the locality (2) the

probability that the crime will be detected and the culprit apprehended (3) the number of arrests

made in similar cases (4) and, how severely people were punished based on previous arrests. The

latter by: (1) When there is an economic growth rate which leads to more job creation and less

unemployment, people are less likely to commit crimes (2) How well people are paid for the

work, they do also influences one’s ability in Latin America to commit crime. (3) Massive

unemployment rates will eventually lead to the fostering of criminal activities (4) the poverty

rate is a major contributor to crime (5) the gap existing between the rich and the poor also

promotes crime. According to the author, historically, culturally, socially, economically, and

institutionally, Latin American cities do have similarities, which are different from the rest of the

world.

The first is that they all have worse levels and patterns of poverty and inequality. Poverty

and inequality in Latin American cities are specifically related to deficiencies in education, the

labor market, and inadequate macroeconomic stabilization and growth strategies plus

discrimination based on ethnic and geographical lines. Secondly, in Latin America there is a

widespread display of male chauvinism and related cultural attitudes. This, machismo, according
to the author is linked to other forms of intolerance, fanaticism, bigotry, contempt for

compromise, and the weakness of civil society and political democracy. The writer added that

the presence of machismo makes both violence and crime much more likely. Finally, the writer

touched on the drug trafficking business which he says is more of recent development but has

become an essential part of the economy with exports to several countries in the region. He

mentioned Columbia in particular and to a lesser degree Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico.

This article is very significant because it adds to diversified literature reviews of crime

and inequality around the world. The research adds to an existing body of knowledge about

crime, inequality, poverty, and the criminal justice systems in some selected countries in Latin

America. The research was well communicated and sufficient data was collected from all the

countries mentioned in the article. The samples collected were moreover, adequate to arrive at

such a conclusion. The study is, however, not universally applicable and there is in addition a

limitation which the writer himself had made clear. First, as the author pointed out, Latin

American cities are far more similar to each other historically, culturally, socially, economically

and institutionally. Secondly, the presence of wide-spread displays of machismo and male

chauvinism, are linked to intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism, and finally, cultural attitudes also

make both crime and violence more likely. Hence, results obtained in this research may not be

applicable in some other parts of the world. Thus, these countries have a lot in common yet

according to this author they are exceptionally different from the rest of the world. The author

also took many factors into consideration, like culture, ethnicity and class structures in Latin

American countries.

The article is very valuable to my research because I can draw an international correlation

between poverty and crime as indicated by this research to support my claim. The writer
cautioned European countries of the impending future similarities to that of present day Latin

America. The author outlined the following factors: (1) European cities growing racial and ethnic

composition (2) The increasing socio-economic divide, especially in the U.K (3) Failing

educational systems (4) New waves of immigration from the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Africa,

and many more places. Additionally, this study is equally significant for the United States as

well due to numerous researchers pointing to the fact that poverty and extreme poverty are a

leading cause of crime in most countries around the world. Thus, the growing gap between the

social classes would eventually lead to more crime regardless of how tough the sentencing

guidelines become.

Kent, L. S., & Jacobs, D. (2004) Social Divisions and Coercive Control in Advanced Societies:
Law Enforcement .Social Problems; Aug 2004; 51, 3; ABI/INFORM Global. pp. 343-
361.

The above research was based on the thesis of social conflict theory, which states that

economic stratification poses a threat to social order. Therefore, an increase in greater social

economic inequality should lead to greater capacity for coercive control by the police. The

primary objective is to find out if this hypothesis holds true in eleven industrialized countries

around the world including the United States. According to the researchers, the police are the

primary agency responsible for preserving order but besides the United States, little effect is

known about the impact of socio/economic divisions on levels of coercive control by the police

in other advanced countries. According to the researchers, the presence of large minority, high

unemployment rate, rapid economic development, urbanization, crime, and social

disorganization should be factors that should lead to greater coercive control from the police.

According to these authors, large minority presence explains police strength only in the

United States. However, the authors concluded that this positive correlation between large
minority presence and police strength across the United States may be due to the intense racial

conflicts in the Country. They argued that, these conflicts did not occur in the other nations in

the study. The results also concluded that, threats to internal stability due to economic

stratification are most likely to produce subsequent expansions of the police force.

The research question was not well framed and communicated for clear understanding.

However, the research is in line with the existing body of knowledge about the correlation

between the increase of minority presence and an upsurge in police force and coercion. The

theoretical framework of the study was adequate, appropriate, and the sample utilized size was

also sufficient. The research design and method analyzed eleven nations: Australia, Belgium,

Canada, Denmark, France, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, the United

Kingdom, and the United States. The data used on the ratio of police employees to national

population was from 1975 to 1994 in most but not all the nations in the study due to missing

data.

The strength of the police was measured by the number of the police force by a

population of 100,000 with data from UN Survey of Crime Trends and Criminal Justice Systems.

There were no adequate control measures to prevent researcher bias, and even though the

research is replicable the results would not be universally applicable due to limitations on the

study. The conclusions of the study are justifiable but only to some extent since the results from

all the countries studied were not uniform and there were also missing data from some countries.

However, the results suggest that the United States due to intense racial conflicts was the only

country among the eleven advanced nations who view the presence of large minority group

presence as a threat to social domestic stability.


This article is very valuable to me because I have learnt that a large minority presence

could lead to an increase in the police force. Moreover, I also learnt that this only happened in

the United States due to intense racial conflicts, and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom, who

also increased their police force even though the crime rate was going down. This research

validates the conflict theory thesis advance forward, which suggests that economic stratification

poses a threat to an established order. Therefore, an increase in law enforcement and social

coercion is justifiable in order to preserve the status-quo.

Lurigio, J. A., Greenleaf, G. R., & Flexon, L. J. (2009) The Effects of Race on Relationships
with the Police: A Survey of African American and Latino Youths in Chicago. Western
Criminology Review 10(1) pp.29-41

This research is about a survey on African American and Latino Youths in Chicago about

the effects of race on relationships with the police. According to the researchers the majority of

studies done on race and perceptions of the police was mostly on the differences between

African Americans and whites and the emphasis has been on black-white comparisons, which

have left other important issues unaddressed; like differences in attitudes towards the police,

especially the difference between Latinos and African Americans. The research compared

African American and Latino youths’ attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions towards the

police. The independent measures used included pro-social values, commitment to school, and

contact with the police. The research findings concluded that there were several similarities

between Latinos and African American students on the dependent measures. According to the

research, both African Americans and Latinos are less likely to assist the police or believe that

the police care less about their neighborhood especially when they have been stopped and been

treated disrespectfully by the police before.


The above research question was not well framed and less significant even though it is

related to a large existing body of knowledge and has also made some contribution. The

theoretical framework of the study was not adequate but appropriate. The research method was

appropriate and the sample size used was sufficient because data was obtained from students

who were enrolled in 18 Chicago Public Schools in May of 2000. The project was also approved

by the Board of Education Legal Department. The survey was carried out anonymously and all

survey data from the schools were aggregated. The finding of this research, however, is very

important because it indicates how most minority youths perceive law enforcement officers.

Furthermore, minority youth willingness to assist the police will depend upon whether they

believe that the police care about their neighborhood or also whether on a previous encounter

with the police; they were treated disrespectfully or not. This research is very valuable to me

because it shows how racial minority youth feel about law enforcement officers working to

protect their communities.

Reiman, J. (2008) The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison. The Political Quarterly, Vol.
79, No. 1, pp. 1427-1450.

The author commented on an announcement by the British government to spend 1.2

billion Pounds Sterling to build new prison places by 2014 thereby increasing the prison capacity

from 81,500 to 96,000, an addition of about 10,500. According to the report, the current prisons

are overcrowded thus police are temporally using their cells to hold prisoners. The author said

the British government’s decision to build more prisons may be the only choice. The author

made reference to the fact that before 1914, the prison population was about 20,000 and fell

during World War 2 but gained momentum from the 1950’s to the 1960’s. By early 1980’s, the

figures had reached 40,000, and it keeps rising through the 1990’s to present. The report also
said Britain is nowadays putting more of its citizens behind bars than almost any other

democracy except for the United States. The author claimed that the view on building more

places in prisons has sharply divided the country, with one side echoing former Home Secretary

Michael Howard’s slogan that “Prison Works”. Michael Howard made his views clear that

prison should be for punishment and determent and to isolate offenders from hampering

society’s safety. According to the writer, some experts believe that it is cheaper to imprison a

person at an annual cost of 38,000 Pounds Sterling a year than to have a relentless offender on

the streets and in the community. There are about 100,000 persistent offenders. Therefore,

incarcerating them permanently could bring the crime level to zero.

The title of the article is very significant and provocative, and it also echoes on current

social facts existing in the criminal justice system. Much research on mass incarceration has been

carried out and this article in particular serves as a perfect prime example as to why this research

must be continued to ascertain the social and economic impact of building more prisons instead

of fostering strong social institutions to encourage rehabilitations. The article was well written,

and well communicated. There was no bias since the views of all the parties involved were

equally represented. The writer, however, wrote as a matter of current facts existing within the

British criminal justice system and the argument surrounding whether enforcing tougher criminal

laws versus getting tough on the causes of crime. The article is a very helpful because it reminds

us of the dilemma society faces when it comes to the issue of crime. The arguments that were

presented in the article also reflect the three social theories we have examined in the Breadth

component of this paper. This article is a very valuable source of information for the criminal

justice system in general but equally important for this research project. Moreover, it further

indicates how some advanced countries respond to crime.


Ruggiero, V. (2003) Fear and change in the city. City, Vol. 7, N0.1, Pp. 45-57.

This article talks about what needs to be done before a positive social change returns to

our cities. According to the writer current urban sociologists and sociologists of deviance do not

recognize the subjective decision-making processes at work in the representation of cities

through their work. According to the author early classical sociologists did recognize the notion

of social change as collective social forces with the potential power to bring about a social

change. However, the writer claimed that current researchers have abandoned the notion of

collective action and innovation as an analytical study of the city and instead instituted in its

place the study of fear, crime and, urban decay. The author said the current trend for urban

researchers is to identify cities as a transitional living nightmare with booming crime rates.

Additionally, they also separate the cities from the people who live in them and focus their

attention on anti-social behavior and disorders in the cities. Furthermore, the writer argued that

current urban sociologists and sociologists of deviance must redirect their attention and start

focusing on problems facing the urban centers by applying social conflict theories for social

change. Finally, the author believes that this would stimulate a positive and a pro-active debate.

This article is very significant because the writer indicated that current researchers who

should be bringing about a positive social change are rather at the opposite side of the aisle.

Thus, he argued that they need to be reoriented towards the concerns of our urban centers but

should not rather work against them. The article has also made a contribution to the existing

body of knowledge calling on current researchers not be concerned alone with the positivists and

structural functionalists’ approach to the study of the city but instead should be action oriented

and start thinking along the lines of a social conflict approach for a positive social change.
The writer used sufficient research materials to support his claims and also took into

consideration all the differing social and cultural issues relating to the research. The article is

moreover, very important because the writer dismisses some studies, which argued that the city

is at its decaying stages and in a sense dysfunctional, hence the next stage would only produce

violence and mobs instead of conscious social change. The article is a valuable source to my

research because it sheds more understanding to the plight of racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged people living in the inner cities. Equally important, I believe that this research will

be of help to criminal justice practitioners and social policy formulators in their effort to build a

fair and just society for all.

Stretesky, P. B., Schuck. A.M,. & Hogan, M.J. (2000) Space Matters: An Analysis of Poverty,
Poverty Clustering, and Violent Crime. Justice Quarterly: Criminal Justice Periodical,
25 (5). pp. 817-841.

The purpose of the above research was to examine the association between poverty

clustering and violent crime rates. The researchers used data from 236 cities and for each city;

they computed a poverty cluster score that measures the proportion of contiguous high poverty

census tracts. The researchers claimed that there wasn’t much evidence to support a direct

relationship between the spatial clustering of high poverty tracts and murder, rape, robbery, and

assault. However, present was a strong correlation between the variable of poverty when it

interacts with poverty clustering and high homicide rates. The authors argued specifically that

economically disadvantaged people have a much stronger relationship to homicide in cities with

a high level of poverty clustering.

The research was well framed and significant because it expanded upon less known

research area of relationship between the spatial clustering of high poverty areas and violent
crime rates. Furthermore, it shed light on spatial dimensions of poverty as structural

characteristic of cities. The research further exposed that there is little or no evidence to support

a strong correlation between poverty clustering and violent crime tolls. The research is also

related to a broader existing body of knowledge in the area of poverty, urban crime and violence.

This article, therefore, makes an original contribution because contrary to the existing body of

literature, which claims a strong correlation between poverty clustering and violent crime. This

research, however, shows little evidence to support that claim.

The theoretical framework of the research was adequate because much literature relating

to poverty and crime was utilized. Furthermore, the data collected, and the methods employed

for the study was appropriate because there were 236 cities with a minimum population of

100,000 residents in the year 2000 involved in the research. The Data sources that were used for

the research were obtained from The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Census of

Population and Housing. The researchers also put in adequate controls to prevent bias. The value

of this research to me is that, it focuses on poverty and crime in the inner cities. Equally

important is that, it draws a correlation between extreme poverty and violent crimes.

This research is very significant because it calls for more research to be done in our inner

cities in order to understand the actual crisis facing our cities. The research is very important

because it persistently shows that poverty does have a strong correlation on crimes in our urban

centers. The research points to the fact that jobs lost in our urban centers like manufacturing

deprives poor communities of their economic resources. Furthermore, the authors argued that

spatial concentration and the isolation of high poverty areas prevented members of the

community from creating and maintaining the basic institutional structures and social controls

that prevent social problems, like violent crimes. Finally, this research is very valuable because it
is well in line with the various social change theories that have been examined in the Breadth

part of this paper.

Sharp, E. (2006) Policing Urban America: A New Look at the Politics of Agency Size. Social
Science Quarterly, Volume 87, No. 2, Southwestern Social Science Association pp. 291-
308.

The objective of the above article is to analyze competing explanations for variations

which contest that the size of a contemporary police force in larger U.S. cities is directly related

to the response of conflict theory. According to the researcher, conflict theory provided much

needed evidence for a racial threat thesis. The study shows that the size of contemporary police

forces is significantly shaped not only by the lessons of the 1960-1970 wave of racial unrest in

the United States, but also by reactions to racial disorders in the 1980s and 1990s in the United

States and by the prevalence of racial minorities in the current population. The research findings

concluded that a police department’s relative force size in 2000 is not only influenced by

incremental growth from the size attained by 1980, but is also significantly shaped by whether

the city experienced a race uprising from 1980-2000 and, to a minor degree, the size of minority

populations and the violent crime rate. The researcher found out that the wealth of a city has

fewer correlations and in addition there was no evidence to suggest that community ideology

plays a pivotal role in community policing matters.

The above research was not well framed because it was not defined well enough and

equally communicated. However, it relates to an existing body of literature in relation to the rise

of urban police forces in recent years. The research is also very significant because it specifically

touched on a conflict theory thesis as part of the bases for the rise in urban police forces. The

article did not make an original contribution. Nevertheless; it has contributed immensely towards
our understanding of the relationship existing between the presence of a large urban police force

and urban community arrests, prosecutions, and incarcerations.

The theoretical framework and methods for this study were adequate and fitting because

the research sample consists of 66 cities with a population of at least 250,000 in 2000.

Additionally, data for the research was also obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics,

Congressional Quarterly’ America Votes, US Census Bureau; and a regional news database from

Lexis-Nexis. The author considered the differing social and cultural issues relating to the study

which made the research conclusions justifiable. Furthermore, the research is replicable.

However, there may be limitations, which would affect the outcome not to be universally

applicable.

The research is very valuable to my project because it sheds light on a conflict theory

which posited that the presence of economic stratification poses a threat to an established

structure hence to counteract this threat, there is the need for a greater coercive control from law

enforcement. Thus, it validates the current treatment of racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged offenders under the criminal justice system. This research would also help urban

police departments to address issues relating to a structural functional theory which calls for

order and stability, thus requiring the full coercive force of the police to carry out that duty.

Turner, K. B., & Johnson, James. B. (2005) A comparison of bail amounts for
Hispanics, Whites, and African Americans: A single County analysis
American Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 30 No 1, pp. 35-55. Southern
Criminal Justice Association

This research is based on bail amounts for Hispanics, Whites, and African Americans in a

single County analysis from a district court in a Midwestern jurisdiction. The authors, used

bivariate and multivate analyses to examine for significant differences between Hispanic and
other racial and ethnic groups in the dependent variable, bail amount set by judges for Hispanics

and other defendants. According to the researchers, to predict differences in the bail amount,

multiple regression control of two independent “legal” variables, prior arrest, and seriousness of

the instant offense, and “extra legal” variables of age, gender, and type of attorney, residency,

and race were utilized.

The finding, according to the authors, suggests that Hispanics receive higher bail amount

than Whites or African Americans. Furthermore, the results also cast doubt on “functional

theory” and “formal rationality theory”, variously known as the doctrine of “legal theory,” as a

model for explaining why members of racial or ethnic minorities receive harsher treatment at

various stages of the criminal justice and juvenile justice system.

The research question was well framed and the research was also very significant

because, according to the authors “a search for literature on race and bail suggests that few

studies have investigated judges’ decisions regarding the assignment of bail” (p.38). This

research also relates to an existing body of knowledge about the treatment of racial minorities

and the economically disadvantaged offenders within the criminal justice system. This research

has also made an original contribution to the existing body of knowledge because, according to

the authors, “Asian Americans and Hispanics have been neglected as a single unit of analysis”

(p.36). According to the authors, most research engaged in “racial lumping” that is normally

putting African Americans and Hispanics into one category and refers to them as “minorities.”

The theoretical framework for the study was not adequate, however it was

appropriate. The theoretical framework was not adequate because the authors stated that, “U.S.

government categorizes Hispanics into four groups: Mexican Americans, or Chicanos, Puerto

Ricans, Cubans, and “others” (a diverse group made up of those with roots in Spain, the
Philippines, and various Central and South American Countries)” (p.37). These categorization

means the Hispanics population could be too broad to analyze effectively. The research was also

communicated clearly and fully. However, I believe there could have also been a way to find out

some answers without necessary doing the research. For instances, in some jurisdictions, racial

minorities are still broken down into ethnic groups to know the actual numbers for each

grouping.

The data for the study was obtained from the District Court files of Lancaster County,

Nebraska, which includes Lincoln, the state capital and second largest city in Nebraska. The data

obtained for 1996 contains information on all White, African American, and Hispanics persons

accused of felony offenses who are eligible for bail. The total number of people involved in the

research was 812. There were 524 Whites, 233 African Americans, and 55 Hispanics. The

research also had adequate controls to prevent bias. The research is replicable because according

to the authors, data analysis from Connecticut concluded that courts systematically set bail for

Hispanic male and African American males 35% higher than set for Whites. Additionally, when

it comes to drug cases, the research found that several Connecticut cities have an average bond

four times higher than the bond for Whites. Furthermore, for women with no prior record, the

average bond for Hispanic women was 197 % higher than for White women. The finding of this

research cannot be applicable nationally and the conclusions cannot be justified for two

important reasons, first, the size of the Hispanic population involved in the study. Secondly, the

research was done in only one county.

This research is very valuable to me because, it has shed light on a significant topic

relating to judicial decisions about racial minorities and the criminal justice system, especially

Hispanics Americans. This is important because, according to the 2000 Census, Hispanics are the
fastest growing racial or ethnic group in United States, over taking African as the largest

minority group (p.37). Furthermore, this research will help people to be very careful when

categorizing racial and ethnic minorities. According to the authors “Mainly this practice hides

differences among groups and limits our understanding of the effect of these important decisions

on the individual groups” (p.49).

Twomey, J (2004) ed., Race, Gender and Class, Race, Gender & Class Volume 11,
Number 1(3-5), downloaded from www.suno.edu/sunorgc/

This article was edited and compiled by Jane Twomey, and it focuses on race, gender,

and class in America. According to Twomey, it is very important for society to remember the

1992 Los Angeles riots even though it has been more than a decade since they occurred.

Twomey argued that remembering would teach us valuable lessons from our past and help us

make a conscious effort in building better race relationships in America. She asserted that the

1992 Rodney King riots were one of the most devastating examples of urban unrest in the 20th

century. She, furthermore, cautioned that even in our post 9/11 era our biggest and most

important challenges are still not to be found in Iraq or Afghanistan but instead in our urban

centers in America.

She reminded us that any quest for social justice must begin at home and with all of us.

She also made it clear that there would be no future regardless of how hard we work, if we are

not guided by the lessons of the past. To keep the 1992 Los Angeles riots alive in our memory,

Twomey, in addition, introduced us to nine short articles written by various scholars on the

lessons of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Austin Scott-Long, the first full time African American
reporter for the associated press has covered many of the major urban periods of unrest of the

20th century.

In Scott-Long’s article, Understanding Race, Class and Urban Violence: Why Journalist

Can’t Do More to Help Us Understand, he discusses some basic ideological premises and

practical realities that limit the ways in which journalists deal with complicated issues, and the

impact this ultimately has on their ability to tell the real story of race and class in America.

William Solomon contributed an article, Images of Rebellion: It examined how the press and

journalists reported Rodney King’s beating. Solomon concluded that this was a symbolic logic of

a capitalistic modern society that supports physical and structure violence against the underclass

and people of color. In the religious community, Jeffrey Brand also contributed with an article

called, Assurance from the Pulpit. This shows how some churches in the Los Angeles area

responded to the crises the Sunday after the riots. Brand, found that church leaders used special

message techniques which he claimed are worth studying due to their impact on helping

communities to deal with crisis.

Bill Yousman also took a socio-psychological approach to understanding the 1992 riots

and community crisis. In his article, “Can We All Get Along?” The Los Angeles Uprising,

Classical Theories of Social Psychology and Dialectics of Individual Action and Structural

Inequality, Yousman used three theoretical perspectives in social psychology-the theory of de-

individuation, scapegoat theory of prejudice, and realistic group conflict theory to call for a

social dialectical understanding for the events of the 1992 uprising. Additionally, Jane Twomey’s

contributing an article, In Searching for a Legacy: The Los Angeles Times, Collective Memory

and the 10th Anniversary of the L.A “Riots” also examines how the Los Angeles Times

negatively worked hard to shape the collective memory of the events of the 10th anniversary of
the 1992 Los Angeles uprising back into the minds of people. According to Twomey the Los

Angeles Times does have the power to frame collective memory as with the case of the 10th

anniversary commemoration coverage thus vividly bringing back strong images of the 1992

riots. This, she claims also helps to support existing racial structures and prejudice.

James Spencer’s article also examined how the neighborhoods that experienced the 1992

riots have fared economically after 10 years. His article, Los Angeles Since 1992: How Did the

Economic Base of Riot-Torn Neighborhoods Fare After the Unrest? Spencer found out that, the

deep economic divisions existing prior to and which may have enabled the 1992 riots was still

present. Spencer drew the conclusion after using recently released zip code-level economic data

from the US Census Bureau to estimate the density and per capital levels of manufacturing, retail

and service jobs in riot areas prior to and after the riots. Nevertheless, Spencer called on

researchers and social policy formulators to focus their research into the deep seated economic

inequalities existing within the localities where the study was done. Max Herman also

contributed with the article, Ten Years after: A Critical Review of Scholarship on the Los

Angeles Riot.

According to Herman, after the Los Angeles riots, three major perspectives have

emerged in the work one is the empirically driving positivist view, a multicultural ethnographic

approach, and a postmodernist critique of prevailing ideological discourses. Herman argued that,

although these are all radically different yet they do complement each other to enhance the

overall understanding of the events of 1992. Tiffany Dyan, Kuniko Monroy, and Daniel Meyers

also wrote a contributing article as a stepping stone towards a broader research on rioting, titled;

In Fanning the Flame: Riot Commissions and the Mass Media. The authors examined whether

the media critique contained in the Kerner and McCone Commission Reports of the 1960s
actually led to changes in the media coverage of subsequent urban unrest. Dyan, Monroy, &

Meyers finding indicates that there has been a significant shift on the side of the media by

responding to critiques about the way social protest and race are reported. The researchers

admitted that their findings were mixed and much work is needed to be done. However, they

acknowledged that the media are moving towards the right direction.

Finally, In Remote Control: How Mass Media Delegitimize Rioting as Social Protest.

Shannon Campbell, Phil Chidester, James Bell & Jason Royer, claimed that contemporary media

cover riots as an ineffective, illogical protest against an established order, and they in addition do

not see riots as agents for progressive and social change. According to Campbell, Chidester, Bell,

& Royer, this represents a significant shift from the social protest of the 1960s thus having an

important implication for contemporary race relations

The above articles are very useful for examining race relations in America. Additionally,

the Los Angeles uprising offers a glimpse into America’s dark side as far as social inequality and

poverty are concerned. These articles would furthermore be useful in shaping people’s views of

what happens in a society experiencing the social conflict of racial discrimination and social

inequalities. The article, Race, Gender & Class is very valuable to my research because it

addresses the concerns of our cities and also sheds light on the current social inequalities still

existing after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Moreover, the authors collectively could show

patterns of social injustice and inequalities through their articles.

Additionally, their collective writings suggest that structural functional theory system

existed in an America whose duty it is to protect the rich and powerful thus, any attempt to rebel

through riots and social disobedience would be crushed. The articles also noted how some
powerful media outlets can use their establishment to distort and create stereotypical images of

people who are engaged in a collective action towards a positive social change.

Valier, C. (2003) Foreigners, Crime and Changing Mobilities. The British Journal of
Criminology 43 (1); Criminal JGustice Periodicals pp. 1-21

The above writing is based on the significance of changing mobilities to theories of crime

and punishment through the critical work of the scholars of the Chicago school of sociology. The

author claimed that, the scholars at the Chicago school of sociology whose published work on

social disorganization, differential association and culture conflict in the 1920s and 1930s was

very discriminatory through their concept of identifying and depiction of different people as

inferior, dangerous, criminal, and amoral. Furthermore, the author argued that, the concepts of

social disorganization, differential association, and cultural conflict are part of the colonial and

national histories of the United States of America.

She asserted that, the concepts have played a crucial role in bringing about modern

interconnections between racial differences, criminalization, and national citizenship.

Additionally, the writer said the distinctions that were created by the Chicago school are still

undergoing complex transformations thus, bringing into question the basis and validity of the

long held concepts and paradigms. According to the author, “ It is important to examine the

Chicagoan understanding of the new mobilities of early twentieth-century America, and to

consider in what respect contemporary mobilities might render their concepts obsolete” (p.2)

The article is well written and the sources provided are sufficient to justify its conclusion.

Additionally, the article also makes an original contribution to an existing body of knowledge by

questioning and challenging the premises of the work of the Scholars at the once famous
Chicago school. This article is very significant because it indicates in part the intellectual source

of racial and ethnocentrism in America. Valier asserted that, the Scholars at the Chicago School

distant themselves from the concept of the “melting pot.” The notion of new Americanism,

because, they believe it will lead to the submergence of separate ethnic identities. Furthermore,

one of the scholars, Stonequist (1937) later points out that, “it was the members of minority

groups that were generally expected to do most of the melting; the dominant group did not

expect to have to adjust themselves to others” (p.11). Valier in addition argued that, the Chicago

Scholars rather preferred the notion of incorporation than absorption. According to Valier,

Parks, one of the Chicago scholars wrote that, “…an unassimilable remainder, the sign of black

and yellow skin, was an effective barrier to integration” (p.13).

This article is also very valuable to my paper because it I have learnt from the author that,

the Chicago Scholars embarked on token analysis of institutional discrimination. Furthermore,

they ignored the weight of racism in housing and employment and they overlooked the role of

racial discrimination practices in the criminal justice system. Valier stated that, a number of

infamous criminal trials stirred debates about racial prejudice within the criminal justice system,

especially the trial and execution of Sassco and Vanzetti in 1920. The author concluded that, “Of

the 25 race riots throughout the United States in the ‘Red Summer’ of 1919, Chicago saw the

greatest number of casualties” (p.16).

West, A, D. (2005) Horton the Elephant is a Criminal: Using Dr. Seuss to Teach Social Process,
C...Journal of Criminal Justice Education; 16.( 2); Criminal Justice Periodicals. pp. 45-
55.

The above article is based on the work of Theodor Geisel popularly known as “Dr.

Seuss”. The article explores his work, Horton the Elephant is a Criminal, through the eyes of

sociological and criminological theories. The author analyzed several of Theodor Geisel’s works,
but settled on using one, Horton Hears a Who, to show the consequence of social stratification

and the nature of crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. The primary purpose of the analysis is to

help teach students through the film, Horton Hears a Who, about the theories of crime and

criminality. In, Horton Hears a Who, Geisel claimed that the story of the Horton and the Who’s

simply means that everyone in a society matters, “A person’s a person, no matter how small”

(p.345). Another important point the author also made was that, the story is also a cautionary tale

against racial prejudice and discrimination. West said Horton the elephant, was perceived

“different” by the jungle residence. Hence, Horton was “labeled” by Mrs. Jane Kangaroo who

has assumed the role of a “moral entrepreneur,” telling everyone that Horton was an outcast. The

author asserted that the story is also an indictment of oppressive government policies and the

tendency for political power to stem from social and economic power. Additionally, the writer

stated, “This represents the common refusal of individuals to broaden their scope of awareness;

reluctance to see beyond their borders; a type of ethnocentrism and egotism, as well as fear of the

unknown” (p.346).

The above article is very significant and powerful to the study of current research on

racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people in America, especially within the

criminal justice system. Because, according to the writer, the story of Horton Hears a Who could

also be in relations to the anti Japanese sentiments that gripped the nation after the bombing of

Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. Thus, any person of Japanese ancestry including individuals

born in the United States was seen as a suspect. This article makes a special contribution to the

existing body of knowledge because it is the first time someone has attempted to interpret the

work of “Dr. Seuss” from a sociological and criminological perspective thus, making an original
contribution to our understanding of the creation and application of laws, the impact of social

stratification, the pervasive and dangerous influence of social and political power.

The article is very valuable to my research because it has taught me and broadened my

understanding about social differentiation and segmentation in structural functionalism.

Additionally, I will also be able design a similar project in a future research. The article has

furthermore, shown how some members of society response to a perceived threat to the social

order or the status quo, by emphasizing on racial differences, prejudicial attitudes, stereotyping

and discrimination. According to the author, sometimes perceived threat may also lead to a total

genocide of innocent minority groups. The author furthermore, stated that, the lessons that we

can learn from Horton is that, we should not be afraid when engaging in social activism .We

should continue to urge the powerless to work together and not be afraid of social integration.

The author in addition, stated that Jane Kangaroo represents a powerful community

leader. She is also elite who uses her position to elicit societal consensus around her beliefs. Her

son, Joey Kangaroo, represents people in our society who are mindless and follow authority

blindly without the ability to make independent decisions of their own. For instance, West

argued that, Mrs. Kangaroo could be representing a powerful interest group. She could also be

representing judgmental society (closed-minded, set, opposed to change, the status quo). She

may also represent the isolationist and prohibition. The writer pointed to the role of the media as

an example of Mrs. Jane Kangaroo.

This article is very powerful because it shed light on some important issues relating to crime

control and law enforcement. The author concluded that, through government messages that

perpetuate fear of crime and feelings of increased risked can control the location of the

population (whites in certain areas, minorities in certain areas), crime control may be simplified.
She asserted that, “If a particular racial/ethnic group also happens to be concentrated in that area;

it is the logical target of enforcement. This perpetuates the stereotype that more crime is

concentrated in the minority communities, leading to more white light…” (p.353).


Literature Review Essay

Social Change, be it positive or negative has been the driving force behind societal

development. Theories of social change and how they relate to poverty and social inequality

have been identified and discussed in the Breadth component of this KAM. Current research

about positive social change relating to minority and economically disadvantaged offenders

within the criminal justice system has also been examined through the annotated bibliographies

above. After carefully analyzing all the evidence presented in the literature to ascertain whether

there have been any significant development or progress as to how racial minorities and

economically disadvantaged people are treated in America and within the criminal justice system

in particular, the verdict shows that little gains have been made within the criminal justice system

and much more work remains to be done.

The evidence in the literature reviews point to the fact that the United States is still

widely polarized: white and people of color, and rich versus poor. Additionally, due to centuries

of immigration, America’s population is extraordinarily diversified culturally, compared to other

high-income nations in the world thus it has also led to a weaker national social fabric. Theories

of classical social change examined in the Breadth component indicate that social change should

lead to progress and development of the human race. However, current research evidence shows

otherwise for the racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people in American and

within the criminal justice system in particular.

SOCIAL CHANGE IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA


Positive social changes within the criminal justice system in America have been very

sluggish for racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged. This is not surprising because

current research into American literature on criminal justice indicates that social evolutional

theory and social structural functionalism are still being utilized towards the treatment of racial

minorities and economically disadvantaged people (Cole, 1999; Reiman, 2003; Western, 2006).

In other words, the theory of structural functionalism whose core belief is about law and order is

very prevalent and well entrenched in the criminal justice system. Nevertheless, unintentional as

it might seem, Robert Merton the notable contemporary sociologist called unintended

consequences, latent functions. Consequently, failure or omission to act, also constitute a guilty

plea. Hence, how could it be justifiable to say that America has actually reached the civilized

stage? For instance, what does it take a society to get to the civilized stage? America could be

considered a civilized society from an evolutional stages point of view, since it has progressed

faster than most countries in the world. However, America still lacks behind the rest of the

advanced countries because, America locks up a higher percentage of its citizens in jails than any

other advanced country in the world (Walker et al., 2002).

Social conflict theorists analyze and study social inequalities and poverty through the

ongoing social conflict between dominant groups and other various categories of minority

groups: The rich versus economically disadvantaged people and white people in relation to racial

minorities. Social conflict theory argues that all stratified societies have two major social

groupings made up of a ruling class who control, exploit, and oppress the working class.

Additionally, conflict theory also assumes that the existence of a structural differentiation is one

of the major sources of conflict in a modern society (Macionis, 2003; Kent & Jacobs, 2004).
Current research, moreover, shows that, there are structural differentiations in our

societies, especially when it comes to the treatment of racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged offenders going through the criminal justice system (Ruggiero, 2003).

Importantly, current research in the literature has revealed that more work needs to be done

within the criminal justice system in order to build a fair and just society in America (Reiman,

2004). Most of the issues and themes identified above in the current literature reviews are

consistent with the theories examined within the Breadth component of this KAM. However, a

full analysis of these issues and themes generated would help shed more light on the prevailing

condition in America in light of positive social change and development that has taken place in

every aspect of the American way of life. Additionally, social change in the 1990s within the

criminal justice system rather led to the building of more prisons at an alarming rate. Current

social change has also led to the reduction in the crime rate, because an additional two million

more people are now incarcerated than there was in 1990 (Reiman, 2004).

Contemporary U.S. Sociologist Robert K. Merton had asserted that some social functions

are more obvious than others. He pointed to manifest functions as the recognized and intended

consequences of any social pattern. For instance, the obvious function of this country’s criminal

justice system is to protect its citizens from crimes and also to discourage further crime through

retribution, deterrence, and the rehabilitation of offenders. However, these functions may not

always be in the best interest of society because, criminals tend to bond, and criminal attitudes

and skills are strengthened over time. Once people are incarcerated their social ties to the outside

world also dissolve, which make it difficult for them to gain meaningful employment once they

are released. Therefore, the likeliness of a released offender committing more crime becomes a

possibility (Mann, 1993; Shannon et al., 1991).


The literature reviews have shed light on some important themes which I believe have

contributed to the lack of positive social change in America as far as minorities and the

economically disadvantaged are concerned. The literature reviews have also indicated that the

structural functional system is the mode of operation in America and to some degree this resulted

in social inequality, tension and divisions among the classes; white people versus racial

minorities, ethnic and gender discriminations. However, a large portion of the research literature

has pointed to conflict theory as the compromising system that should be employed in order to

create balanced societies in America. Finally, some of the most visible deficiencies and themes

discovered in the literature reviews are in the following areas:

1. Racial Minorities, Economically disadvantaged people and Law Enforcement

Officers

2. Fear, Mistrust, and Tension between the Races,

3. Mass Urban Poverty

4. Theoretical Perspectives on Inequality and Crime

5. Inequality in the Criminal Justice System

6. Large Racial Minority Imprisonment

RACIAL MINORITIES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

The fragile relationship between racial minorities, economically disadvantaged people

and law enforcement officers could be explained in Elaine Sharp’s (2003) Policing Urban

America: A New Look at the Politics of Agency Size, argued that, a conflict theory thesis of a
racial threat is one of the reasons why the size of urban police forces continues to rise although,

crime continues to go down. Sharp (2003) employed a conflict thesis data, from the 1960s and

1970s, to drive her point across. According to the thesis, racial minorities are seen as a threat

therefore, the police force size is proportional to the scale of minority group presence. Sharp, in

the year 2000, conducted her research in 66 cities across the United States, with a population of

at least 250,000. The results indicated that the size of a contemporary urban police force is not

only shaped by incidents of the 1960-1970 racial unrest in America but also racial uprising in the

1980s and 1990s and the rise of current racial minorities in the cities in addition to violent

crimes.

Sharp has asserted that, the size of the police force is due to how politicians and local law

enforcement agencies have publicized crime events. She claimed they use rhetoric, and the

misrepresentation of crime figures to convince the public that crime has become a major problem

that needs to be giving attention through the expansion of the police force. Sharp also used the

Inequality Thesis to support her claim that economic inequality in a community is the source of

the threat, rather than the presence of large racial minorities. Thus, the wealthy class would seek

to protect themselves from the economically disadvantaged people thereby protecting the status-

quo by enhancing the police ability to maintain law and order. Furthermore, Sharp argued that

the Racial Disturbance Thesis also explains why apart from the size of racial minorities and their

economic inequality, there could still be an increase in the size of the urban police force. Hence,

the Los Angeles riot of April 29-May1, 1992 serves as a prime example when law enforcement

officers involved in beating Rodney King were acquitted because, the riots required the

mobilization of 14,000 additional law enforcement officers beyond the boundaries of the city

(Sharp 2003).
FEAR, MISTRUST AND TENSION BETWEEN THE RACES

The presence of fear, mistrust and tension between racial minorities, economically

disadvantaged people and law enforcement officers has led to a negative if not a less favorable

attitude between urban citizens and law enforcement officers in urban centers. Sharp (2003) had

already indicated through her research that the increase in size of a minority population is also an

indication of a threat to the dominant class to maintain the current status-quo. Racial minorities,

who live in the inner-city areas, are, by and large, also economically disadvantaged and poor.

Therefore, they may in addition become victims of the attentions of a larger police presence. In

other advanced countries according to the current research review (Kent & Jacobs, 2004) police

also use social divisions and coercive control techniques to control ethnic minorities and the

economically disadvantaged. This is because social conflict theory suggests that, economic

stratification also poses a threat to a well established order.

Kent & Jacobs’ (2004) research titled Social Divisions and Coercive Control in

Advanced Societies: Law Enforcement ... Social Problems, hypothesize that, an increase in

greater social economic inequality should lead to greater capacity for coercive control by the

police. The primary objective is to find out if this hypothesis holds true in eleven industrialized

countries around the world including the United States. According to the researchers, the police

are the primary agency responsible for preserving order but besides the United States, little effect

is known of economic divisions on police size in other advanced countries. According to the

researchers, the presence of a large racial minority group, high unemployment rate, rapid

economic development, urbanization, crime, and social disorganization should be factors that

should lead to greater coercive control from the police. The results of the findings suggest that it
is only in the United States that the presence of large racial minority groups led to greater

coercive police control.

The results also concluded that, threats to internal stability due to economic stratification

are most likely to produce subsequent expansions of the police force. Eleven Nations were

involved in the study: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Republic of Ireland,

Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. However, the results indicate that the police in

America to some degree do use more coercive force to control their urban population than do the

rest of the countries involved. Furthermore, the research also indicates that it is only in the

United States that the presence of a large racial minority group, and the economically

disadvantaged that have led to an increase in the strength of a police force. This to some degree

shows why many urban residents or racial minorities are less likely to have favorable opinions of

law enforcement officers in the inner cities.

Racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people’s frustrations and anger could

also be evident in the Racial Disturbances Thesis, put forward by Elaine Sharp in relation to the

1992 Los Angeles riot. Another important article that, additionally, focuses and shares similarity

on minority frustration and anger with law enforcement is, Race, Gender, & Class (2004) edited

by Jane Twomey. The article made it clear that we should be learning a valuable lesson from the

1992 Los Angeles disturbances because they were some of the most devastating urban unrests of

the 20th century in America.

The article also featured an article written by William Solomon: Images of Rebellion

where the author examines how reporters covered Rodney King’s beating as a symbolic image,

one which reflects the perverse logic of a modern capitalist society, sanctioning physical and

structural violence against a racial minority group. Solomon argued that the news media
portrayal of Rodney King’s beating represents the deep sited divisions within the society with

structural functional theorists who see the riots themselves as unacceptable and a waste of time,

and social conflict theorists who, on the other hand, see the riots as a justifiable response to

oppressive and abusive law enforcement organization.

The fear, mistrust and tension between racial minorities, economically disadvantaged

people continues to rage on and was recently captured in a research paper by Lurigio, Greenleaf,

& Flexon (2009) "The Effects of Race on Relationships with the Police: A Survey of African

American and Latino Youths in Chicago.” The research compared African American and Latino

youths’ attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions towards the police. The research findings

concluded that there were several similarities between Latinos and African American students on

the dependent measures. According to the researchers, both African Americans and Latinos are

less likely to assist the police or believe that the police care about their neighborhood, especially

when they have been stopped and disrespected by the police before.

Racial minority groups do have a similar perception of the police even though historically

they have nothing in common. However, racial minorities do share similar feelings like fear of

crime in their communities, safety of their children and generally how they are all treated by law

enforcement officers. The study points to the fact that African Americans of all ages have a less

desirable attitude towards the police than whites. The research also indicates that, African

Americans are more likely to become victims of crime than any other racial group. Additionally,

African Americans are further likely to have negative contact with the police. Moreover, they are

also disproportionately stopped, harassed, and mistreated than the rest of the population.

Consequently, they are also less likely to report incidents of crimes or cooperate with law

enforcement officials.
Racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people in urban centers direct their

fear, mistrust and frustrations on law enforcement officers and people who do occupy high

positions. They believe these people have advanced knowledge on social issues and could bring

about positive social change, but believe that most of these intellectuals work against them. In

Claire Valier’s article, Foreigners, Crime and Changing Mobilities, she explored the theories of

crime and punishment through the work of the scholars from the Chicago School of Sociology.

Valier argued that the concept of social disorganization, differential association and culture

conflict are part of colonial and national histories of the United States of America.

The author claimed that these distinctions help perpetuate stereotypes against racial

minorities. Thus, people of different ethnic backgrounds were depicted as inferior, dangerous,

and criminals. She argued that the writings of these notable men in the 1920s and 1930s divided

people, created fear, hatred, and cultural conflict in America. According to Valier, for the great

men of the Chicago School the word cosmopolitanism means contradistinction to ethnocentrism,

and xenophobia. Valier asserted that, this particular point is important and relevant because it has

had a great impact on current scholars of urban sociology, who, nevertheless, do not focus on

social movements as a vehicle for collective social change. As an alternative, they rather explore

fear, crime and the dangers that could be found in today’s cities. (Valier, 2003) Valier, further

said the Chicago Scholars interpreted cultural conflict as an individual problem which needed

adjustments.

Valier, referred to the work of one of the students of the Chicago Scholar, Everret

Stonequist (1937) to show how discriminatory the Chicago Scholars were. Stonequist developed

the concept of the marginal man as an immigrant faced with the dilemma of having a mixed

blood. According to Stonequist, the marginal man even- though free from the power of social
control through his ability to move freely from one locality to another still finds himself a victim

of uncertainties and stigmatizations.

Stonequist also hammered his point across by drawing on the work of the prominent first African

American sociologist, W.E.B. Du Bois, who wrote The Soul of Black Folks (1903). Stonequist

joked that the blood mix that Du Bios described, is subject to both racial prejudice and cultural

conflict thus, feeling the pressure of being pulled and pressure from both sides thereby producing

an ambivalent attitude of pride, shame and love and hate of oneself. Stonequist asserted that, Du

Bios could make an adjustment to his predicament by becoming a minority group leader.

Furthermore, Stonequist claimed that people with similar problems became withdrawn

and isolated, while for others, it becomes only temporarily resolved, leading to personal

disorganization, expressed in delinquency, crime, suicide, and mental instability (Valier, 2003).

Stonequist, once again, drew on a chapter in Du Bois’ book, The Souls of Black Folk who

attacked the passiveness of Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute for allowing his

program to be used for a gradual assimilation approach without demanding the voting rights for

minorities. Du Bios concluded that such a strategy and conciliatory approach amounts to the

acceptance of the inferiority complex of the Negro race (Du Bois 1903/ 1989:43).

Other scholars who added their voice to the criticism were Chicago based Jane Addams

and Edith Abbott, who also pointed to several factors as being the reason why black people or

racial minorities have fears, mistrust and frustration of the existing social system. They pointed

to discrimination in the workplace, housing segregation, economic exploitation, and racial

segregation seen in the city (Valier, 2003). Another important point Valier’s article made is that,

between 1917 and 1919, 26 black homes were destroyed with fire bombs in formerly all-white
neighborhoods. Furthermore, realtors who sold houses for blacks also became targets of hate

crime (Valier, 2003).

Today few things have changed because the melting pot often talked about in America is

more for racial minority groups to start doing the melting to meet the standard of the dominant

group who is not required to do any adjustment of their own

(Valier, 2003) Modern day assimilation means racial minority groups must conform to

specifically Anglo-Saxon tradition. The final argument made by Valier’s article was that, the

Chicago Scholars’ view of American nationality should be one that is made up of a mosaic rather

than a single entity, thus, the absorption of the melting pot concept is the denial of one self, and

the Chicago scholars would have rather preferred incorporation (Valier, 2003).

Fear, mistrust and tension between the races have additionally, been captured in

Vincenzo Ruggiero’s article titled, Fear and Change in the City (2003) wherein the author called

for the reorientation of all scholars involved with urban sociology and the sociology of deviance

in an urban context. Ruggiero argued in the article that something needs to be done if a positive

social change is to return to our cities. Since current urban sociologists and sociologists of

deviance have forgotten the fact that they have to recognize the subjective decision-making

processes at work in the depiction of urban centers in their work. According to the author, early

classical sociologists do recognize the notion of social change as collective social forces with the

potential power to bring about social change. However, current researchers have abandoned the

notion of collective action and innovation as an analytical study of the city. Additionally, they

have instead instituted in its place the study of fear, crime and, urban decay.

The author said the current trend for urban researchers now is to portray cities as a

transitional living nightmare with booming crime rates and fear. Furthermore, current researchers
also separate the cities from the people who live in them and focus their attention on the anti-

social behavior and disorders in the cities. The writer argued that contemporary urban

sociologists and sociologists of deviance must redirect their attention and start focusing on

problems facing the urban centers by applying the social conflict theories for social change.

Finally, the author believes that this would stimulate and generate a positive and a pro-active

debate. In a nutshell, the research shows that only few contemporary researchers have been re-

oriented towards a social conflict theory, to enable positive social changes in the cities.

Moreover, this attitude towards the city’s problems have made people start casting doubt on

whether our urban centers have the ability to bounce back once again, or if even there is a real

hope for a true revival of the American inner cities.

According to the author, students of urban sociology were faced with the choice of either

focusing on the illegitimate activities like, urban crimes or instead focus on social conflict and

change in the city. However, the author said some chose to focus on the city as a frightening

aggregation of individuals and concentrated on fear for the gathering of people and different

groups in the urban environment including the wave of increasing immigrants with their cultural

diversity. According to the writer, this is how the sociology of deviance started independently

(Ruggiero, 2003). Ruggiero argued that many contemporary urban sociologists and sociologists

of deviance were influenced by the work of classical writers like Tonnies, who classified urban

life as mechanical, and rural life as organic thus, making the city appear dysfunctional that

produced only devastating mobs, instead of people with the ability to come together for a social

change.

Ruggiero also said, sociologists of the Chicago School were additionally influenced by

the work of Simmel on the ideal of extreme phenomena, generated by the city life, and this,
furthermore, attests to their selective nature of thinking and orientation. The writer argued that,

the sociologists of the Chicago School, took Durkheim’s ideas of crime, but broke away from the

positivist tradition of studying individual pathologies or groupings as objects of social

conditions. By so doing, the so called transitional areas inhabited by a succession of the migrant

group were also classified as criminal activities generating centers. Thus, little efforts were

devoted into how to mobilize collective action in this area for a positive social change.

MASS URBAN POVERTY

Social change is a collective effort, and it involves all stake holders. It is moreover,

important for scholars and students of sociology, and urban studies to focus on a social conflict

theory when studying problems facing the inner cities, and the criminal justice system. The

majority of the people who become victims of the criminal justice system are also victims of

their own neighborhoods. Poverty has also been indicted as one of the causes of crime in urban

centers across the United States. Furthermore, poverty has equally been the main culprit in most

crimes committed in Latin American Countries. According to Hojman, D. (2004) Inequality,

unemployment and crime in Latin American cities, crime rates are very high in Latin American

cities, especially in places where there is diversity between and within the cities.

Hojman (2004) asserted that, the causes of the crime wave have been attributed to

poverty and social inequalities, and unemployment. Some experts think that poverty and social

inequality in Latin America are too deeply rooted. However, there is one thing both sides agreed

on, and that is regardless of the behavioral parameter values, deterrence does not work in Latin

America due to official incompetence and corruption of law enforcement personnel, the judiciary

and personnel in the prison system. This is largely what makes the Latin American urban

problem different from the urban problems in the United States. In America, there is less
corruption within the police force in comparison to many Latin American countries. The law

enforcement officials are competent, and the court and prison systems are all well equipped.

Hojman (2004) concluded that poverty and inequality in Latin American cities are

related to deficiencies in education, the labor market, and inadequate macroeconomic

stabilization and growth strategies plus discrimination based on ethnic and geographical lines.

However, there are similarities in the causes of a crime in Latin American countries and the

United States. First to top the list as this research has shown is poverty, and social inequalities.

Furthermore, in the United States, most of the poor people are also racial minorities, who had

been subjected to past racial segregation, housing and job discrimination. Moreover, racial

minorities and economically disadvantaged people in America, additionally, face the same

problem of an inadequate and ineffective school system. Therefore, their chance of getting

equally good education and a well paying job is also affected. Equally important is the fact that,

most minorities living in the urban centers are either unemployed or are engaged in low paying

jobs thus, continuing the urban cycle of poverty.

Poverty and social inequalities in American inner cities has also contributed largely to

urban violence and crime. In the Breadth component of this KAM, many theories of social

change and societal development were examined and social conflict theory argued that the

existence of stratification and social inequality in a society lead to a social conflict. Thus,

poverty and social inequality in American inner cities would undoubtedly lead to a social conflict

in the form of deviance behavior, and different types of illegal activities. This also explains why

there are disproportionately large number of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged

people incarcerated under the American criminal justice system. The research conducted by
Stretesky, Schuck, & Hogan (2000) examined the association between poverty clustering and

violent crime rates.

The researchers used data from 236 cities and for each city; they computed a poverty

cluster score that measures the proportion of contiguous high poverty census tracts. These

researchers claimed that there was not much evidence to support a direct relationship between

the spatial clustering of high poverty tracts and murder, rape, robbery, and assault. However,

there was a strong correlation between the variable of poverty when it interacted with poverty

clustering and high homicide rates. The researchers argued that more research needs to be done

in our urban centers in order to understand the actual crisis facing our cities. Some previous

studies done on urban poverty and crime seek to down play the strong correlation between the

problems facing urban centers and the causes of crimes.

Nevertheless, a recent research project titled, Reassessing Nonlinearity in the Urban

Disadvantage /Violent Crime Relationship by Lance Hannon and Peter Knapp (2003) seeks to

correct the discrepancies caused by methodological bias from log transformation about the urban

disadvantage and violent relationship to the attention of sociologists and criminologists who are

becoming increasingly worried about the nonlinearly and interaction effect. The authors claimed

that some research and studies suggest positive correlation between neighborhood disadvantage

and violent crime; whereas other research also indicates that there is a negative relationship

between neighborhood disadvantage and violent crime. According to these writers, these

inconsistencies are due partially to the lack of logarithmic transformation in criminological

research.

The authors, claimed that though, logarithmic transformation has lots of benefits, there

are also drawbacks. The authors asserted that, a recent research done by Krivo and Peterson
(1996:620) supported their idea that there is a positive correlation between socioeconomic

disadvantage and crime which disadvantages neighborhoods. Additionally, there was also an

unusually high crime rate in comparison to neighborhoods with a relatively moderate or low

level of socioeconomic disadvantage.

Poverty and social inequality have also led to high recidivism rates among racial

minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders. Holtfreter, el al. (2004) argued in this

research that poverty does have a strong bearing on women offenders once they are released

from prison. According to the writers, this eventually leads to recidivism thus costing the State

more money. The study focuses on the effect of poverty and state aid to women offenders and

recidivism. The researchers used 134 female felony offenders from the community correctional

facilities in the State of Oregon and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota to do a self

report of re-arrest and probation or violations over six- months time periods.

According to the researchers, the results of the study based on logistic regression

analyses indicate that poverty status increases the probability of re-arrest by a factor of 4:6, and it

increases the odds of supervisory violations by a factor of 12:7. However, risk scores like

poverty status failed to predict recidivism. The research also found out that specifically among

poor women offenders, providing state-sponsored support to address short- term needs like

housing reduces the chances of recidivism by 83%. Thus, community correction officers who

help make state capital available promote empowerment for women and reduce the odds of

recidivism among women. Finally, after assessing the influence poverty has on recidivism

among women offenders the importance of this study is to draw the attention on the role poverty

in general plays and why it is important to reduce its effect on everybody.


Thus, being poor increases your chances of engaging in a criminal wrong doing than

when you are part of a middle and upper class group. Additionally, the authors stated that, the

United States has the highest poverty rate for female-headed households and also the largest

gender gap related to poverty (Holtfreter et al 2004).

THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE ON INEQUALITY AND CRIME

In a theoretical perspective of crime and social inequalities, Theodor Geisel popularly

known as “Dr. Seuss” uses his work, Horton the Elephant is a Criminal to explore crime/social

disadvantage through the eyes of sociological and criminological theories. The author analyzes

several of his works but used, Horton Hears a Who to show the consequence of social

stratification and the nature of crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. According to the author,

the primary purpose of this analysis is to help teach students through the film, Horton Hears a

Who about the theories of crime and criminality. West (2005) argued that this method of

teaching is also very valuable because it shows us what goes on within our society,

unconsciously, everyday, which might constitute social conflict and labeling theory, social

differentiation, and segmentation in structural functionalism. The article shows that some

members of society respond to a perceived threat to the social order or the status quo by over

emphasizing racial differences, prejudicial attitudes, stereotyping and discrimination. Hence,

racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people once again become the victim of the

vicious cycle of poverty. According to social conflict theory, poverty and social inequalities

thrive in a capitalist society because the laws and norms reflect the interest of the powerful

members in the society. Thus, those who threatened the very foundation of the system are

considered to be deviant.
Conflict theory also asserted that the social injury caused by society’s elites is less likely

to be considered criminal due to their social standing. However, when racial minorities and

economically disadvantaged people caused social injury, they are generally labeled as deviants

and criminals. Understanding urban poverty and social inequalities from a theoretical perspective

helps us treat the less unfortunate ones in our society with the same respect and dignity accorded

each member of the society. Urban poverty has increased because jobs and industry that were

once located in the cities are now being located in suburban industrial and office parks leaving

many large inner city residents without jobs (Walker, Spohn & DeLone, 2002).

Most inner city residents also do not have transportation to enable them get to these

suburban businesses. Thus, the geographical shift of employment had as well affected the job

quantity and quality available to racial minorities and economically disadvantage people living in

urban centers. Moreover, the effect of the economic loss to these urban centers has had a

devastating impact on neighborhoods. These distressing impacts include high unemployment

rates, persistent high crime rates, as well as increasing levels of physical violence. Additionally,

the fear of physical harm and crime makes other law abiding people move out thereby increasing

the concentration of the unemployed and consistent offenders (Mann, 1993; Shannon et al.,

1991).

Furthermore, due to safety, inability to secure insurance and loss of revenue many small

businesses also move out of the cities. Because there is no competition for the remaining

businesses in the cities, they tend to increase their prices on goods and services. Finally, drug and

drug life activity becomes the dominant trade in the inner cities with most customers coming

from the suburbs. Children in the process are exposed to gangs and the illegal activity of drug
peddling but due to peer pressure, they cannot resist the temptation (Walker, Spohn & DeLone,

2002. Western, 2006)

INEQUALITY IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Due to the above discussed problems, racial minorities and economically disadvantaged

offenders are disproportionately arrested and formally arraigned through the criminal justice

system. This point has been validated through the work of Walker, et al 2002. The authors

utilized most recent research documents on patterns of criminal behavior and victimization,

police practices, court processing and sentencing, the death penalty, and correctional programs

for the study. The authors quoted the great African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, who said

the problem of the twentieth century is nothing but race and racial discrimination, and to some

extent the authors consider that, race is still the problem in this twenty first century considering

the current treatment of racial minorities under our criminal justice system.

The authors supported their claim by citing data which suggested that, although, African

Americans represented only 12% of the US population in 1996, they made up about 49.4% of the

prison population. Additionally, the rates of incarceration for African Americans were seven

times more than Whites. Moreover, about 40 percent of people who were on death row, and

about 53 percent of all executed inmates since 1930 were Black. The authors stated that racial

minorities are treated more harshly than whites at some point in the criminal justice system,

especially when it comes to the death penalty. The evidence of systematic racial discrimination,

according to Walker et al., (2002) precedes the civil rights movements which were characterized

by open discrimination directed against African Americans and other racial minorities at all

stages of the criminal justice system.


They also argued that despite all the significant changes made in the criminal justice

system, racial inequities still exist and African Americans and other racial minorities silently

continue to suffer both overt and subtle discrimination at the hands of the police. Furthermore,

racial minorities are more likely to be shot and killed by the police than whites, and they also

suffer being arrested, and being victimized by excessive physical force. The authors additionally

point to current statistics to show that there is still compelling evidence that discrimination exists

within the criminal justice system when it comes to bailing, charging, plea bargaining, jury

selection, and juvenile justice processing. They, furthermore, noticed discrimination in

sentencing, and additionally, found out that some judges in some jurisdictions continue to

impose harsher sentences on African American offenders who murder or rape whites. However,

these same judges are more lenient on whites who victimize African Americans.

Discrimination against racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders has

been reviewed in the literatures by current criminologists and sociologists. David Cole’s book,

No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the Criminal Justice System was reviewed by Dennis

(2001). According to Dennis, the book certainly makes a strong argument for the inequality

existing in the American Criminal Justice System. The author, David Cole argued that the

criminal justice system is based on two systems, one serving the rich and the other serving the

poor. O.J. Simpson’s case was a typical example of how one could be a member of a racial

minority, yet financially powerful enough to make White America realized that it has two

criminal justice systems.

To indicate that there is no equal treatment for racial minorities and the economically

disadvantaged within the criminal justice system; Cole cited the case of Florida v. Bostwick, to

show how discriminatory the system is when it comes to administering equal justice. According
to Cole, Bostwick was searched in a bus and the police found one pound of cocaine and arrested

him. However, in Terry v. Ohio only probable cause was allowed, yet Terry was carrying a

weapon. Cole’s point was that, both Bostwick and Terry should have been subjected to equal

treatment under the law. But because Bostwick was black and a racial minority, his appeal for

equal treatment fell on deaf ears. The court threw out his argument of the probable cause, and

said the police have the right to search at will. However, Terry who rather happened to be

carrying a weapon was allowed to invoke the probable cause which prevents the police authority

to search him at will.

Cole, additionally, cited pre-arrest profiling, inadequate counsels and very harsh

sentencing given to racial minorities as some of the existing evidence of discriminatory practices.

Furthermore, Cole suggested that the legitimacy of the criminal justice system is vital if minority

confidence in the system is to develop. One way of doing this is to eliminate double standards.

Positive social change within the criminal justice system has been a very slow process.

Therefore, a large number of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders find

themselves being sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

In reviewing the literature, it also came to light that 38% of all black adult men in the

State of Oklahoma have been convicted of a felony. K.C. Moon the Commissioner stated that the

finding was not due to racism or unjustly treatment of blacks, but instead it is due to poverty.

Furthermore, he admitted that the result was due to socio-economic problems than racial

discrimination. Additionally, he said blacks are statistically poorer than whites (Anonymous,

2006). Western, (2006) also added his voice against the massive imprisonment of racial

minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders under the criminal justice system in his

book titled, Punishment and Inequality in America. Western asserted that mass incarceration of
poor African American men leads to the breakdown of the society units within racial minorities

and economically disadvantaged families. The author also claimed that there are numerous

consequences that await incarcerated racial minority and economically disadvantaged men once

they get back from prison. Thus, with labels attached to them, they have little prospects in

finding any meaningful employment. Additionally, these men also do not have any income to

support a family. The author challenges traditional assertions of incarceration as a means of

dealing with crime because it also broadens the scope of social inequalities.

According to the author, the book is not just about crime and deviance but on a larger

canvas it is more a story about race and poverty in a great, rich country. Western stated that

towards the last decades of the twentieth century the American criminal justice systems was

uncertain about prison rehabilitation projects that were first attempted in New York and

Pennsylvania. As a result, prison has become exclusively for incapacitation, deterrence, and

punishment. According to the writer, research has shown that between 1970 and 2003, state and

federal prisons grew seven times to accommodate 1.4 million convicted felons serving at least

one year behind bars. Offenders held at county jails, awaiting trial or serving short sentences

added another seven hundred thousand by 2003. The researcher also noted that, 4.7 million

people were under probation and parole supervision.

The author, as well, maintained that information obtained from the Bureau of Justice

Statistics reports of 2004 recorded that over 12% of African American males, aged twenty-five

to twenty nine were behind bars, prison or jail. The report also stated that, about 30% of black

men born in the late 1960s without a high school level education had served time in prison, and

60% of them who may be in their mid-thirties have a prison record. Furthermore, the author

argued that by 2000, over one million black children – 9% of those under eighteen - had a father
in prison or jail. The author added that, although it has been argued that incarceration may

prevent those who are locked up from committing further crimes in the society. But once they

are released, they have only few resources to start with and fewer chances of gaining any

meaningful employment, even to an extent of getting someone to marry. Hence, crime and

opportunistic criminal behavior becomes inevitable or an inviting alternative (Western, 2006;

Mann, 1993).

LARGE RACIAL MINORITY IMPRISONMENT

Based on the above current literature reviews one could clearly observe the social

inequalities existing within American society, especially within the criminal justice system. It is

assumed that social change and societal development tend to bring upward mobility and equal

and fair chances to all members in the society regardless of the racial and economic background.

The American criminal justice system still operates within the context of structural

functionalism. Structural functionalism is also practiced unconsciously in societies where

stratification and segmentation exists.

In Reiman’s, (2008) The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, the author

commented on an announcement by the British government to spend 1.2 billion Pounds Sterling

to build new prison places by 2014 to increase the prison capacity from 81,500 to 96,000.

According to the report, the current prisons are overcrowded thus police cells are temporarily

being used. The author said, the British government’s decision to build more prisons may be the

only choice but, it also clearly points to the new direction the criminal justice system is

embarking on. That is people who breaks the law must be punished through incarceration. The

report stated that, Britain is as well putting more of its citizens behind bars than almost any other

democracy except the United States. The Former British Home Secretary, Michael Howard was
the first to use the slogan, “Prison Works”, to signal the departure from rehabilitation to

punishment. Today, proponents of additional prison places have also taken to the same slogan.

According to Reiman (2008) some experts in Britain believe that it is cheaper to imprison

a person at an annual cost of 38,000 Pounds Sterling instead of having a persistent offender on

the streets. Interestingly, Jeffrey Reiman’s (2004) book, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get

Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, also wrote that, the aim of the criminal justice

system is to protect the American public from the threat of crime from the poor but not to

prevent it, and neither is it there to provide justice to all. The author claimed that the failure of

the justice system to eliminate crime is by design, to convince all stakeholders for their

justification in holding and imprisoning a large proportion of underprivileged criminals. The

writer said the source of crime, in our inner cities has long been known to include, poverty,

slums, and unemployment. However, no step has been taken to improve the livelihoods of inner

city residents. Reiman argued that, based on current research, it is no longer a secret that,

poverty, exacerbates criminality behavior and people quest for property accounts for 90% of the

crime rate.

Society is additionally aware that prison undermines human dignity and ex-convicts do

not have job opportunities due to stigmatization. Many inmates come back from prison with high

hopes of getting integrated into their communities, and also with the hope of living productive

lives. However, society is less receptive to former prison inmates which make it very difficult for

them to gain any meaningful employment. As a result, most poor racial minorities become

disillusioned about society and many return to their old lifestyles to make a living. Furthermore,

economically disadvantaged people are more likely to get arrested than are the rich for the same

offence. Additionally, the economically deprived people are more likely to be charged than the
wealthy. Moreover, they are also more likely to be convicted. Once they are convicted, they are

equally more probable to be sentenced to prison than their rich counterparts or members of the

middle and upper classes. Thus, the composition of the American prison system is made up, by

and large, by racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people (Reiman, 2004).

As part of his book introduction, Professor Jeffrey Reiman said, it is his view that the

social order is responsible for most of the social crimes prevailing in our society. He argued that,

due to the nature of American individualism and its economic competitiveness, the poor are

pressured to enhance themselves or achieve an economic position by every means available to

them. Furthermore, this social competition degrades and humiliates the losers who are more

likely to be, from the economically disadvantaged, or a racial minority.

GLOBAL PICTURE OF POVERTY AND INEQUALITIES

In conclusion, the plight of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people in

America must be clearly understood. Therefore, it would be better to appreciate the global

picture of poverty and social inequality, and the impact it has on people’s lives across the world.

Mackenzie, (2006) broadened our horizon to the international level, to understand the role

poverty and social inequality play around the world. Mackenzie’s article is relevant to our

understanding of poverty and social inequalities as it relates to racial minorities and

economically disadvantaged offenders within the American criminal justice system.

Additionally, it may contribute towards the building of a fair and just society in America.

Furthermore, there are important points and lessons we can draw from this article. The article

will also challenge those of us who believe that American is not in the position of solving the

problems of its racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged.


Mackenzie’s article began with the G8 summit held in Gleneagles in July 2005. The

meeting was attended by representatives of the 8 richest countries in the world chaired and led by

the United States. On top of their agenda was to forgive 100% of all the debt of about 40 billion

dollars owed by 18 of the world’s poorest countries. In return, these countries would implement

and maintain macroeconomic, poverty reduction and structural reform policies satisfactory to the

World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The first question we should ask is why they

gave the 40 billion dollars? Secondly, is there any particular reason why they have decided to

forgive this debt? According to the author, in total, 38 countries were considered Highly

Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). The importance of this move to forgive the debt of these poor

countries is the realization that poverty creates a hardship and also many lives would be saved

since part of the money could be diverted into other social programs to alleviate hardships in

those countries.

To understand the magnitude of hardship these poor countries go through, Mackenzie

(2006) provided us with the staggering statistical figures. According to him, 47% of the total

world population earns one-quarter percent of global income. One- quarter percent is different

from one-quarter of the world income. Mackenzie (2006) reminded us that, one-fifth of the world

population still lives in poverty and out of the 6 billion human beings, 2.8 of them live on less

than $2 a day. According to the author, more than 880 million people lack access to basic health

services, and 2 billion people have no electricity. Additionally, he asserted that, over 1 billion

more have no adequate shelter. The author maintained that, roughly one-third of 50,000 deaths in

a day are poverty related, which could be prevented through better nutritional care, safe drinking

water, vaccines and cheap re-hydration packs and antibiotics (Mackenzie 2006, pp.1-2).
This article in brief, has shed light to the power of money and the detriments of poverty

from an international or global perspective. However, the most important lesson from this article

should be the fact that the world’s richest countries forgave 100% of the debt of 18 of the

world’s poorest nations. In return these countries must implement macroeconomic, poverty

reduction and structural reform policies satisfactory to the World Bank and the International

Monetary Fund.

The 8 richest countries have realized that there is a vast international social inequality

existing between the rich nations and the poor nations based on the statistics presented above. If

the measures put in place by the rich countries are an attempt to build better societies in these

poor countries, then it can also be argued that America have not done a better job with its inner

cities. America must double its investments that are necessary for social growth and development

in the inner cities. Social conflict theory thesis argues that, the existence of vast social structures

is also the source of social conflict. There are vast social structures in the American society

which has kept racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged from gaining equal access

to opportunities. America, as the leader of the free world must also demonstrate to the United

Nations and the International community that, they are leading the way in reducing social

inequality and poverty from their society.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The evidence of systematic discrimination against racial minorities, especially African

Americans precedes the civil rights movements. The great African American scholar W.E.B. Du

Bois attributed the problem of the twentieth century to be race and racial discrimination but the

problem of the 21 century should not be based on racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged people. Thus, the election of a racial minority President to the White House is a
positive sign for social change in America and, a victory for racial minorities and the

economically disadvantaged people. However, there is more room for improvement in our

society and the criminal justice system in particular. America is a progressive country, and there

is no reason why we should have 38% of racial minority adult men in Oklahoma with a felony

record. Such trends must not go unchecked, because, the consequence would be obviously the

widening gap between racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged, and the rest of the

population.

Based on current research, it could be said that the criminal justice system needs a

makeover through the help of a positive social change. What can be done to remedy the disparity

which is evident within the criminal justice system? Learning from social disorganization theory,

we can tell that the problems facing American inner cities are real. Furthermore, they contribute

immensely to the problems we have in our society in general and the criminal justice system in

particular. Social disorganization theory has been used to indicate the outbreak of violence

within local communities, and we have already seen enough violence in our inner cities to wait

any longer. Additionally, the presence of a concentration of economically disadvantaged people,

ethnic heterogeneity and residential instability are all indicators that social disorganization is

likely to exist.

Moreover, such neighborhoods have the lowest incomes, increased rates of unemployment,

lack of institutional investment, inadequate resources and financial support. Currently, these

problems are still present in our urban centers, and we are not doing enough to remedy the

situation until it gets worse before we respond with our law enforcement agencies. However,

correcting these social problems will further lead to the reduction of excessive arrest and

incarceration rates within the criminal justice system. In 1996, African Americans represented
only 12% of the US population, however, they accounted for about 49.4 percent of people in

prison (Walker et al., 2002; Reiman, 2004).

As agents of positive social change, we must strongly confront these figures. These figures

speak volumes about structural functionalism. In America, the racial group, you belong is closely

related to your social standing. Therefore, under-privileged racial minorities in the midst of

affluence see society as unjust by not providing a fair means to achieve equal opportunities. For

this reason, most urban youth turn to criminal activities to achieve the same goal, but reject the

approved means of achieving it. Thus, it is also not unconventional for more racial minorities

than Whites to be arrested, and victimized by excessive physical force or even shot and killed by

the police.

America has finally elected an African American President of the United States; African

American first Lady, and an African American Attorney General. How could we say positive

social change has not yet come to America? How unfair is such a criticism? Well, first, we have

to look at the broad look at the American canvas. Secondly, we should inspect the paintings

relating to social inequalities. Thirdly, we should look at the images of the American criminal

justice system. Finally, the plight of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people

behind bars sums up all the paintings. Social change leads to conflict and without conflict

nothing would have been won in America. Therefore, all the victories won by racial minorities

were won in the context of social change. The fight for social change in America started from the

American Revolution, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Equal and Civil

Rights, Desegregation and Affirmative Action. Consequently, every change we are witnessing

today constitutes the forces of societal change and development, and its theories will continue to
shape and perfect society forever. However, just as Karl Marx accurately asserted, the existence

of social stratification and social inequalities are the sources of all conflict in every society.

So what can be done to correct the situation existing in the American criminal justice

system? How do we make people aware of these vast discrepancies existing in our society?

What do current researchers think of these theories of social development?

The Application portion of this KAM which is the production of a manual booklet to assist

young professional within the criminal justice system will shed more light on the answer.
Application

SBSF 8130: Professional Practice and Societal Development

Introduction

This portion of KAM 1 is the application section. The project consists of two parts.

The first part of the project is the production of a training manual in a form of a booklet. The

purpose of this manual will be to assist and sensitize all stakeholders, especially those within the

criminal justice system; towards the need for a more professional and informed approach to the

treatment of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders. The manual can be

used as the basis for a training seminar for those entering the criminal justice profession and a

ready reference document for professionals in the field.

The second part of the paper will be about ten pages integrating the ideas, themes, and

theories examined in the Breadth and Depth portions of this KAM project

PART 1

A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING RACIAL MINORITIES & ECONOMICALLY

DISADVANTAGED OFFENDERS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

The working title of the project manual is: A Framework for Understanding Minorities and

Economically Disadvantaged Offenders in the Criminal Justice System.

INTRODUCTION

The manual will be about 76 pages in length and will be divided into seven chapters, starting

with four pages of preface and introduction. The introduction will explain why a manual is

necessary and its value as a training and education resource with the potential to promote

positive social change under the current criminal justice system. The introduction pages will

address the segment of the population that may benefit from the book. These groups will
primarily consist of, students, all newly employed and existing staff of the criminal justice

system; including Judges, Court Personnel, Correctional Officers, Law Enforcement Officers,

Policy makers, Social Service workers and Legal and Para-Legal Professionals with the desire to

see a positive social change in the Criminal Justice System. The introduction will also talk about

how the manual came into being and thank all those involved in its production.

Each chapter in the book will be about ten pages. Additionally, another two pages will be

devoted to References and Bibliography.

SOCIAL CHANGE: RACIAL MINORITIES AND THE ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED

IN AMERICA

Chapter one, will be titled, Social change: Racial Minorities and the Economically

Disadvantaged in America. The chapter will identify and discuss the definitions and meanings of

Social Change, Racial Minorities, and Economically Disadvantaged offenders and how they

relate to each other. A brief history of social change in America will also be examined together

with its impact on every aspect of American life, especially for minorities and the economically

disadvantaged. The chapter will also briefly discuss the evolution and development of criminal

justice in America starting from 1831 when America took the lead among social reformers in

Europe by offering a new approach to the public management of criminals at Auburn State

Prison in New York and, Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Historical examination will also

include the impact of the President’s Crime Commission of 1965, and subsequent key events in

the evolution of the criminal justice system.

THE CLASSICAL AND SOCIAL THEORIES OF CRIME


Chapter two will be titled, The Classical and Social Theories of Crime: The focus of this

chapter will be on the classical and social theories of crime and the sources of crime in our

society. Therefore, it will explore and examine the classical and current theories of crime and

criminal behavior of minority and economically disadvantaged offenders, from a multi-

disciplinary perspective. The chapter will also introduce and discuss various types of crimes

including, White-Collar Crime, Street Crime, Victimless Crime and Over Criminalization and

Decriminalization.

RACIAL MINORITIES, ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED OFFENDERS AND LAW

ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

Chapter three will be titled, Racial Minorities, Economically Disadvantaged Offenders

and Law Enforcement Officers. The chapter will focus primarily on how racial minorities and

economically disadvantaged offenders interact with law enforcement officers. Moreover, the

chapter will include police subculture regarding racial minorities and economically

disadvantaged people, and their neighborhoods. In addition, evidence that supports claims that

there are routine police practices of authoritarianism and abuse, brutality and unnecessary deadly

use of force against racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people, especially those

living in urban center ghettos will be presented and evaluated.

RACIAL MINORITY, ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED OFFENDERS AND THE

COURTS’ SYSTEM

Chapter four will be titled, Racial Minority, Economically Disadvantaged Offenders and

the Courts’ System. This chapter will explore the evidence which supports claims about the
unfair and unequal treatment of racial minorities and economically disadvantaged offenders

under the court’s system. First, claims that the Prosecution team intentionally seeks to undermine

the rights and liberties of racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged offenders will be

examined. Secondly, this chapter will examine the effectiveness of Court Appointed Counsels

and Public Defenders on racial minority and economically disadvantaged offender cases.

Thirdly, the chapter will discuss the use of Plea- Bargain by both the prosecutor and the public

defender and if this acts to the detriment of the minority and the economically disadvantaged

offender. Finally, the chapter will discuss how trial and jury selections can impact on racial

minority and economically disadvantaged offenders.

SENTENCING AND INCARCERATION FOR THE MINORITY AND THE ECONOMICALLY

DISADVANTAGED OFFENDER

Chapter five will be titled, Sentencing and Incarceration for the Minority and the

Economically Disadvantaged Offender. In this chapter, disparities of sentencing and

incarceration will be discussed and the purpose of sentencing and incarceration will also be

explored and examined, especially in relation to the current policies concerned with the

sentencing and treatment of minority and economically disadvantaged offenders. Major points

that will be highlighted and discussed will include Retribution, Incapacitation, Deterrence,

Rehabilitation, and their impact on the racial minority and the economically disadvantaged

offender.

MODERN DAY CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN AMERICA


Chapter six will be titled, Modern Day Criminal Justice in America. Chapter six will

argue that, despite the millions of dollars that has been poured into the criminal justice system,

for reform and fair treatment of minority and economically disadvantaged offenders, the system

is far from realizing its goal. Therefore, the aim of this chapter will be to examine the failure of

the criminal justice system by reference to the current research findings of experts, and those

with authority in criminal justice whose expertise is concerned with racial minority and

economically disadvantaged offenders and the American criminal justice system.

TOWARDS A POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE FOR MINORITIES, ECONOMICALLY

DISADVANTAGED OFFENDERS AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Chapter seven will be the concluding chapter, and it will summarize and highlight all the

major points discussed in the manual. The title of chapter seven will be, Towards a Positive

Social Change for Minorities, Economically Disadvantaged Offenders and the Criminal Justice

System. This chapter will challenge the reader to become an agent of positive social change.

Additionally, the chapter will ask readers to re-examine all the evidence presented in support of

the plight and predicaments of racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged people in

our society. Equally important, will be, to remind readers about the frustrations, racial minorities

and the economically disadvantaged go through; especially those who frequently become subject

to the criminal justice system. Finally, the chapter will talk about specific measures and

recommendations needed to be taken to address the social inequalities within the criminal justice

system. The last two pages will be devoted to references consulted when the manual was being

written.
DISCUSSION

The development of this manual for young professionals and operational members within

criminal justice agencies is the first step towards positive social change within the criminal

justice system. In addition, and having examined the evidence presented previously in the

manual it will be open for those who use the manual to take a different approach when they deal

with people from the minorities and socially disadvantaged in the community. Thus, the manual

will become a small but important supplemental educational tool to assist them to better

understand the population they are serving.

PART 2

To achieve the goal of social change it is necessary to understand how poverty and social

inequalities began in the midst of societal change and development during earlier times.

Therefore, it is important to understand the connection between the works and thoughts of

classical and contemporary writers, and researchers and the realities of modern, professional

criminal practice. Particular links that need to be understood can be traced through the key ideas

of a line of original thinkers.

Jean Rousseau (1712-78) was a prominent forerunner in the fight against social

inequalities and poverty. In a work entitled Discourse on the origin of Inequality, he asserted

that humans and society can be studied systematically, since it will also make room to examine

the innovative nature of humankind. Additionally, he said, it will indicate that, originally,

humans have depended on nature solely for their upkeep rather than the social and political

organizations currently in place, which has brought about the contemporary social inequalities

(Patterson, 1999).
Rousseau used the term amour-propre to denote a love for one self and the desire to be

superior to others and be respected and cherished by them. He claimed this to be the beginning of

social inequality. Rousseau asserted that, the structure of social inequalities was not of general

concern throughout human history. However, it became of more concern with the development

of mechanical agriculture. Rousseau added that, people began fencing agricultural lands as their

private properties. This, according to Rousseau, partly gave birth to personal richness and

powerful landlords. Eventually, it also led to the destruction of people’s natural liberty, because

powerful and rich landlords subjugated the poor and landless workers to constant physical labor,

slavery and human misery (Patterson, 1999).

Thus, the picture being painted above by Rousseau is not so much a total absence of

social inequalities and private poverty in societies before the advent of the industrial revolution,

but the industrial revolution brought more rapid social changes which additionally, deepened the

social stratification, inequalities, and poverty already existing.

In an attempt to explain poverty and social inequalities from the classical literature,

social evolutional theorists like Spencer (1892) acknowledged that, the process of societal

evolution followed inevitable laws of nature, which eventually leads to social progress.

Therefore social inequalities and poverty are part of social evolution. Additionally, structural

functional theorists also explained social inequality and poverty as a valuable part of the social

stratification system based on meritocracy that keeps society operating. Furthermore, structural

functionalists believe that, society as a whole benefits when greater rewards are linked to

important social positions. Structural functional theorists further argued that, social stratification

matches people’s ability and talents to appropriate occupational positions, which they consider

very useful and inevitable.


Based on the above explanation and reasoning given for the existence of social

inequalities and poverty one can easily see that the United States would deems to exist with

social inequality based on meritocracy. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that American

society is deeply divided reflecting the extent of its social stratification. Additionally, being a

racial minority or economically disadvantaged person in America is a consequence of

institutional evolution.

Structural functionalists claim that, values and beliefs that legitimize social inequality are

widely shared throughout society (Macionis, 1999). How could this be true for racial minorities

and economically disadvantaged people in America? What choice do racial minorities and the

economically disadvantaged people have, considering the oppressive and suppressive historical

experiences of African Americans in particular? Talcott Parsons (1964) also added that, social

systems are made up by individuals in a society, and for that reason any transaction involving

individuals may also be complicated with their ability to make choices. Regardless of the

difficulties involved, people must still respond to these choices as part of their personal

responsibility. Parsons again reminded us that, society functions and behaves just like the

biological system with all its natural counterparts. Therefore, social and biological evolution all

follows the same logical pattern (1964). Parsons concluded that modern societies can have a

greater capability to adapt to societal changes in comparison to earlier generations.

In short, Talcott Parsons is referring to, “Social Darwinism, and the survival of the

fittest.” Parsons made his position very clear: First, he believes that people have the right and a

choice to enter into mutual dealings with each other. Secondly, the present generations are far

more capable of handling stress and pressure than are previous generations. Finally, Parsons does

not believe that government should get involved to make rules to protect the weak, the strong or
against each other. Because, he believes firmly that non-governmental intervention truly

embodies the essence of social evolution; and people will have the ability to adapt and change

over time. Just like Spencer, Parsons also believed that social differentiation and stratification are

all a natural social outcome.

In other words, Parsons would not see anything wrong with the kind of social inequalities

that we currently have in our society, especially with the criminal justice system. Many people

including experts share the same view with Parsons and structural functional theorists about the

non intervention policy for government in social issues. For this and other reasons our society is

now at the crossroads in terms of race relations and social inequalities. Comte (1915)

argued that, the new science of positivism should be able to eradicate human suffering especially

poverty. Comte also stated that social problems can be studied scientifically through the study of

sociology. However, Comte, like Spencer and Parsons also stated that, civilization has

progressed through a natural and a logical unavoidable course of human organization and has

become the supreme law of all practical phenomena. Comte, like Marx was also worried about

the poor and their working conditions. However, he also does not believe in government

interference because, he had stated clearly that, human civilization has progressed through a

natural and an unavoidable course of human organization (Comte, 1915). Based on the above

thoughts of Comte, it should not be difficult for one to determine which cause of action Comte

would have taken. Comte, clearly ascribes to social evolutional theory and structural functional

theory (In today’s America, he would be called a liberal conservative).

Writing this manual is very important because most of today’s social researchers strongly

ascribe to either, the theoretical explanations of Comte, Spencer, or Parsons. However, there are

others like myself, who believe that, to create an equitable society, we must use Karl Marx and
the social conflict theory’s approach. Current social and urban researchers, regardless of their

theoretical orientation, must still take into consideration the agonizing history of racial minorities

in this country, especially African Americans. Thus, it is worth noting that, African Americans,

who, by and large, now live in our inner cities, are also a product of social change and

development. Furthermore, most African Americans migrated from the rural, agricultural south,

where most worked on the plantations (Shannon et al, 1999).

Macionis (1999) noted that, between 1870 –1930, tens of millions of people from other

countries came and settled in the northern industrial cities of the United States, and there was

also an internal migration from the rural southern agricultural producing areas to the newly

industrialized cities. Therefore, the consequence of these migrations is cultural diffusion, and the

decline of southern communities and the urbanization of American cities into metropolis. As a

result, this change in demographic patterns has led to social change and African American’s

escaping poverty and subjugation from the south only to become victims in the north.

Social Change according to Karl Marx (1955) is brought about by conflict. However, the

absence of physical conflict does not constitute an absence of conflict. Social conflict is also

brought about by the existence of social structures as conflict theory has asserted (Marx, 1955).

There are certain institutional structures in our society which have created a vast gap between the

rich and the poor. Slavery for example is partly responsible for the current social inequalities

existing in the country. Smith (2000) wrote in a work entitled, Investigating Difference: Human

and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice, “The history of African Americans is a story of

inequality, injustice, and exclusion, beginning with slavery; widespread belief in the natural

inequality/inferiority of blacks (i.e., racist ideology) helped underpin discriminatory policies and

actions” (p.73).
Additionally, most of the very poor people in this country are by, and large, from racial

minority groups. As a result, it is not easy to separate racial minorities from economically

disadvantaged people in America. For example, during the civil and equal rights era, both

women and racial minorities, especially, African Americans joined forces to fight for their rights

to vote and to be equally integrated in the American society.

This manual is very important because it will also argue that, instead of our society

moving towards greater equality and opportunity it has rather moved backward. This would be

done by referring to important statistics showing the large economic gap between white

Americans and racial minorities. Additionally, it will refer to unemployment rates among

African Americans, which have been twice as high as those for Whites for decades (Walker et

al.., 2002) Current research also indicates that the lack of employment opportunities for racial

minorities and the economically disadvantaged in the urban centers is partly responsible for the

illegal drug sales and property crime rates in the inner cities (Walker et al.., 2002; Western,

2006).

In America, an individuals’ social class is usually measured by the level of their income,

education, occupational prestige, or from a combination of some of these factors. Robert Agnew

(2006) pointed out in a work entitled, Pressured into Crime: an Overview of General Strain

Theory that, current social research indicates that racial minorities and the economically

disadvantaged are more likely to engage in crime, particularly serious crime than members of the

middle and upper-classes in society (p.142). Agnew (2006) asserted that people in the lower

class of society who have been very poor for a long period of time are more likely to engage in

criminal activities. Furthermore, economically disadvantaged people, including poor racial

minorities are more likely to experience tensions which contribute to crime and to cope with
tension and stress in a criminal manner (p.142). Finally, Agnew (2006) observed that, “Parents

who are poor are more likely to experience a range of stressors, including financial problems,

unemployment, work in “bad” jobs, housing problems, health problems , and residence in high-

crime communities” (p.143).

Many racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people are in prison today partly

because of their status in society. However, the predicament of racial minorities is made even

worse because, once they are incarcerated their social ties to the outside world are also severed,

which makes it difficult for them to gain meaningful employment once they are released.

Therefore, the likeliness of the racial minority or economically disadvantaged person to commit

further crime becomes greater and a possibility (Reiman, 2004).

During the 1990s, the social changes that took place within the criminal justice system

were influenced by evolving criminal justice policies. The changes however, led to the building

of more prisons at an alarming rate. Currently in America, social change has also led to the

reduction in the crime rate, but at the cost of building more incarceration centers and adding

more than million people to prisoner numbers than there was the in 1990 (Reiman, 2004).

Therefore, social change has not led to the reduction of prison construction or the incarceration

of more people. For this reason, it is imperative to write the manual to alert stakeholders of the

impending danger of mass incarceration without a suitable alternative.

History of classical social change theories has indicated that, social change is also

brought about by conflict in a society or the lack of natural harmony between the systems.

Currently, social inequalities and discrimination are very prevalent in our society, especially

within the criminal justice system. Hence, there is a conflict of interest between racial minorities

and the dominant social group. Because racial minorities who become victims of the justice
system believe that they are being unfairly targeted. On the other hand, the dominant group, to

some extent, believes that most of the social problems; including crime and drugs are all

generated by racial minorities. Secondly, there is a lack of spontaneous harmony between all the

systems in our society. Therefore, there is always friction and tension waiting to explode. Hence,

there is the need to create harmony and to reduce the incidence of inequalities in our society

especially within the justice system.

In Investigating Difference: Human and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice, Perry

and Nielsen (2000) discussed the specific issues of prevention and treatment for racial minorities

in the criminal justice system (p. 283). For example, the authors referred to Newark, New

Jersey’s, Soul-O-House Drug Abuse Program as a culturally specific program because, it

involves varieties of strategies that included, parent meetings, after school care, athletics, and

most importantly participants were counseled from an African American Perspective.

The authors, in addition, argued that, although racial minorities, especially youth are over

represented in the criminal justice system, little has been done to incorporate cultural strategies

in the numerous crime prevention strategies currently available. Perry and Neilson (2000)

asserted that, most racial minorities are offered alternative crime prevention programs without

specifically taking their cultural orientation into consideration. Moreover, they maintained that,

when racial minorities, especially the youths, are equipped with the knowledge of their past, this

arouses in them a cultural pride, which will help them refocus on successful community building.

In America, one’s racial identification is closely related to one’s social standing; therefore, racial

minorities living in the midst of affluence see society as unjust, by not providing a fair means to

achieve equal opportunities. For this reason, most urban youth turn to criminal activities to

achieve the same goal but reject the approved means of achieving it. Thus, it is not unusual for
more racial minorities than whites to be arrested, and victimized by excessive physical force or

even shot and killed by the police.

This manual is important for professionals working for the criminal justice agencies

because they need to understand that not all people charged with a crime are guilty. Sometimes

one’s guilt may be due to circumstances beyond his or her control. Western (2006) wrote that, “if

the prison does not underbid the slum in human misery, the slum will empty and the prison will

fill.” (p.54). Western additionally, observed that,” By 2000, over a million black children- 9

percent had a father in prison or jail.” (p.5). Based on this fact, it will be very wise for

stakeholders to work together and reduce the excessive minority incarcerations based on racial

discrimination. Western (2000) has also argued that, the mass incarceration of racial minorities

and the economically disadvantaged does not necessarily lead to inequality between blacks and

whites in America however; it slows down the upward mobility and deflates hopes for racial

equality (p.7). Finally, Western asserted that there are also more variations in imprisonment

across the fifty states than between the United States and Europe. This means that some States

have sentencing guidelines and others do not. According to Western (2006) there were only two

states with sentencing guidelines in 1980. By1990 the number has gone up to ten, and by the

year 2000 there were seventeen states. Furthermore, in 1980, as many as seventeen states

abolished or limited the use of parole, and by 1990 there were twenty one states in total; by the

year 2000, the number has jumped to thirty three states.

In 1980, there was nothing like the, “Three-strike laws”, and by 1990 there was still no

law like that. However, by the year 2000, twenty four states have adopted the law (Western,

2006. p.65). These statistics suggest that, social change has been a mixed blessing for racial

minorities and the economically disadvantaged offenders under the criminal justice system. For
instance, the three-strike laws had sent many racial minorities and economically disadvantaged

offenders to prison. Western (2006) stated that, “…Ochoa was on parole at age fifty- three and

was caught supplying false identities for food stamps and emergency shelter vouchers; the

welfare fraud, valued at 2,100, earned a sentence of 326 years at the New Folson supermax

prison” (p.64). Cole (1999) argued also that, there is still racial discrimination in jury selection,

though the Court has made strong pronouncements about equality. According to Cole, the court

has not backed them up with meaningful implementation. Cole admitted that to achieve equality

within the criminal justice system is extremely difficult. However, the courts must still be held

accountable for perpetuating and facilitating discrimination.

There are many factors leading to the arrest of racial minorities and the economically

disadvantaged people in our society. Raymond J.Michalowski (2000) wrote in Investigating

Difference: Human and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice, that the rich have the power to

exert direct influence on the making and implementation of laws and government policies.

Additionally, they can also shape the content of the mass media. However, the poor, who are

nearer to the bottom of the social ladder, on the other hand, earn very little, have no wealth, and

have little influence over government and media. Furthermore, their style of speech, their

dressing, and the way they conduct themselves in public is seen as unstable, unconventional, or

“dangerous” by those from advantaged sectors of the society (p.113).

Michaeowski (2000) stated that, “The criminal justice system’s focus on the crimes of the

poor to obscures the far greater harm done by white-collar and corporate criminals” (p.118).

Michaeowski additionally stated that, the United States historically controls its surplus

populations by first, resorting to police arrest and imprisonment through the criminal justice
system, and secondly, through the social welfare system in the form of jobs programs and cash or

in-kind assistance (p.124).

Mann, (1993) in a work entitled, Unequal Justice: a question of color, wrote that, Blacks

have been kept at the bottom of the society since they stepped onto this land. First, they were

kept as slaves for cotton-based southern states. Secondly, after reconstruction, they become

marginal tenant farmers and domestic service workers. Then finally, they became the last

immigrants to the central cities. She argued that, historically, white people have seen all people

of color as inferior, controllable, and usable. Racial minorities are seen as surplus populations

(p.250).

The Chicago school of sociology used to be in the forefront for the study of crime and

punishment through their critically acclaimed published works on the concepts of social

disorganization; differential association and cultural conflict in the 1920s and 1930s. However,

Valier, C. (2003) Foreigners, Crime and Changing Mobilities’ gave a far different insight as to

how these notable scholars at the Chicago School may have partly contributed to our societal

problems. Today, based on this study done by Valier, we can now conclude that these writings

were very discriminatory. The scholars at the Chicago School developed their own concept of

identifying and depicting people of different cultures and race. According to Valier (2003) these

concepts and depiction led to the labeling of different groups of people as inferior, dangerous,

criminal, and amoral.

Thus, the lessons we can learn from this, are that while great effort is being made to build

a fair and just society, there may be certain intellectual elements in our society or within the

criminal justice system whose writings and ideology may not be to the best interest of society at

large. Therefore, it is important that facts are presented to all stake-holders. Additionally, the
writing of the manual is very significant because the targeted groups may have already read

many scholarly books relating to racial minorities and disadvantaged people in our society or

even within the criminal justice system. However, we may not know who the writers were,

whether they are proponents of social evolutional theory, structural functional theory, or they

ascribe to social conflict theory’s approach. These distinctions are very important because they

all explain racial minority problems and the causes of urban poverty differently.

Larry A. Gould (2000) in, Investigating Difference: Human and Cultural Relations in

Criminal Justice, wrote a contributing article titled, Cultural Awareness Training for Criminal

Justice. In it, he asserted that, in developing strategies that are particular to justice personnel, it is

necessary to understand who they are and, to some extent, how they have been socialized (p.

231). Again, this explains why it is very important for us to understand that, how justice

personnel had been socialized or oriented will influence his or her thinking. Furthermore, Gould

(2000) observed that, “For the most part, justice system personnel are businesslike and, if forced

to choose between tact and truthfulness, they usually choose truthfulness; likewise, justice

system personnel are usually not convinced by anything other than reasoning based on solid

facts” (p.31).

Ruggiero’s (2003) article Fear and change in the city argued that, early classical

sociologists do recognize social change as a collective social force, with the potential power to

bring about a positive societal change and development. However, current researchers have

abandoned that spirit of collective social change. Additionally, current urban researchers now

categorize cities as central living nightmares, with an alarming crime rate. Based on Ruggiero’s

article, it can be concluded that some of what we read about racial minorities and the inner city

problems may be exaggerated.


Kent & Jacobs (2004) also presented us with a conflict theory thesis which suggests that

economic stratification poses a threat to social order. Therefore, an increase in greater social

economic inequality should lead to a greater capacity for coercive control by the police.

According to the researchers, the presence of a large minority, high unemployment rate, rapid

economic development, urbanization, crime, and a social disorganization all lead to greater

coercive control from the police. The results of these findings suggest that, there is high

unemployment rate among racial minorities, rapid urbanization, high crime rate, and the

presence of social disorganization. Thus, it is not surprising that we have a large number of

minority group incarcerations.

Based on the above information, it must be noted from a social conflict theory analysis

that, racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people do pose a threat to a system of

government where less than 5% of the population controls over 50% of all the resources in the

country. Thus, the argument presented above so far should be the underlying bases for the

writing of this manual. Furthermore, if America is really concerned about a positive social

change in the criminal justice system, then this manual will be acknowledged in a good faith, and

welcomed as a small contribution to an already existing body of knowledge about the plight of

racial minorities and economically disadvantaged people within our society.

CONCLUSION

The problems facing the criminal justice system could not easily be corrected just by

rebuilding our inner cities, and providing racial minorities and economically disadvantaged

people with equal opportunities for education and employment. The factors working against

racial minorities are embedded in the social structures. Therefore, correcting these problems will
entail dismantling most institutional barriers and structures. First, we need to revisit our policies

on crime control, which tend to disadvantage racial minorities. Secondly, the criminal justice

system must eliminate double standards in differential sentencing, as pointed out by Professor

Cole. Thirdly, correction facilities should include education and training in addition to

incarceration and retribution. As an alternative, inmates must be helped through programs that

seek to successfully rebuild their lives for their return to society. Fourthly, we must abide by the

creeds that this nation was founded upon.

Finally, we must continue to owe this truth in the criminal justice system to be self-

evident that, not all of us are treated equal. Nevertheless, this manual is not intended to make

excuses for racial minorities or economically disadvantaged people but rather to present the facts

which have been informed by the research done in the Breadth and Depth components of KAM1.

References

Agnew, R. (2006).Pressured into Crime: An Overview of General Strain Theory.


Roxbury Publishing Company. Los Angeles

Anonymous (2006 December) Oklahoma: 38% of adult blacks have felony records.
Corrections Digest; Dec 1, 2006; 37.( 47); Criminal Justice Periodicals PP.6-7.

Button M. D. (2008 spring). Social disadvantage and family violence: neighborhood


effects on attitudes ab...American Journal of Criminal Justice: AJCJ; 33, 1;
Criminal Justice Periodicals Pp. 130-150.

Cole, D. (1999). No equal justice: race and class in the American criminal justice
system New York, NY: The New Press

Cole, G, F. (1992) The American System of Criminal Justice. (6th ed.) Brooks/Coles
Publication Company. Pacific Group, California

Comte, A. (1915) The Positive Philosophy. London: George Bell


Dennis, H, S ( 2001 May). No equal justice: race and class in the American criminal
Justice System Contemporary Sociology; 30, (3); Research Library Pp. 290-
293.

Duncan, D. (1908) The life and Letters of Herbert Spencer. Online edition

Elwick, J.(2003) Herbert Spencer and the Disunity of Social Organism. History of
Science 41, Pp. 35-72.

Hannon, L; & Knapp, P. (2003 November).Reassessing Nonlinearity in the Urban


Disadvantage /Violent Crime Relationship Criminology; 41, (4); Criminal
Justice Periodicals Pp. 1427-1448

Herber, Lewis. (1965) Crisis in our Cities. Prentice- Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J

Holtfreter; K.; Reisig, M,D; & Morash, M .(2004 March). Poverty, State Capital, and
Recidivism among Women Offenders. Criminology & Public Policy: Criminal
Justice Periodicals 04;( 3), 2; Pp.185-208.

Hojman, D, (2003 November). Inequality, unemployment and crime in Latin


American cities: Crime, Law & Social Change. Pp. 33-51.

Investigating difference: Human and cultural relations in criminal justice (2000).

Kent. L S; & Jacobs, D (2004) Social divisions and coercive control in advanced
societies: law enforcement ... Social Problems; Aug 2004; 51, 3; ABI/INFORM
Global. Pp. 343-361.

Lurigio, J, A., Greenleaf, G, R; & Flexon, L, J.(2009). "The Effects of Race on


Relationships with the Police”: A Survey of African American and Latino Youths in
Chicago." Western Criminology Review 10 (1) Pp. 29-41.
(http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v10n1/Lurigio.pdf).

Macionis, J. (2003). Society: The Basics. (7th ed.). Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Mackenzie, S. (2006) Systematic Crimes of the Powerful: Criminal Aspects of the Global
Economy Social Justice; 33,1; Criminal Justice Periodicals. Pp.162-183

Marx, K. (1847/1999). The Poverty of Philosophy.Retrieved March 19, 2008, from


Marx/Engels InternetArch:http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/
poverty- Philosophy/index.htm

Marx, K. (1955) the Communist Manifesto. New York: Appleton


Marx, K. (1959). Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy New York: Doubleday

Marx, K. (1964). Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy. (T.


Bottomore, Trans.) London: McGraw-Hill.

Mann, C, R. (1993). Unequal Justice: A Question of Color

Parsons, T.(1954). Essays in Sociological Theory. New York: Free Press

Parsons, T. (1964) The Social System. New York: Free Press.

Patterson, P. C. (1999). Change & Development in the Twentieth Century: Oxford


International Publishers. Oxford. New York

Reiman, J. (2003). The Rich Get Richer and the Poor get Prison: Ideology, Class, and
Criminal Justice (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ruggiero, V (2003 April) Fear and change in the city. CITY, VOL 7, NO.1, Pp. 45-55.

Shannon, R, T,. Kleniewski, N; & Cross, M, W.(1991).Urban Problems in Sociological


Perspective. (2nd ed.). Waveland Press, Inc.

Sharp, E (2006 June) Policing urban America: A new look at the politics of agency
size. Social Science Quarterly, Volume 87, Number 2, / 2006 (Southwestern Social
Science Association). Pp. 291-308.

Spencer, H (1892) Sociology. New York: Appleton & Company

The criminology theory reader (1998). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Stretesky, P. B; Schuck. A.M; & Hogan, M. J (2000 December) Space Matters: An


Analysis of Poverty, poverty clustering and violent crime. Justice Quarterly: Criminal
Justice Periodical, 25 (5). PP. 817-841.

Toffler, A & Toffler, H.( 1995) Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third
Wave Turner Publishing, Inc. Atlanta, Geogia.
Twomey, J, L. (200) Race, Gender & Class: Volume 11, Number 1 (3-5) Race, Gender &
Class Website:www.suno.edu/sunorgc/..

Valier, C (2003 winter) Foreigners, Crime and Changing Mobilities. The British
Journal of Criminology 43 (1); Criminal Justice Periodicals Pp. 1-21.

Walker, S., Spohn, C., & DeLone, M. (2002).The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity,
and Crime in America (2nd ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
West, A, D. (2005 October) Horton the Elephant is a Criminal: Using Dr. Seuss to
Teach Social Process, C...Journal of Criminal Justice Education; 16. (2); Criminal Justice
Periodicals. Pp. 340-382.

Western, B. (2006). Punishment and Inequality in America: Russell Sage Foundation:


New York