The ways in which peoples lives change are related to their location in the society’s hierarchical class system and the influences these circumstances have on their future prospects. An individual’s class is measured by the grouping of people together, according to their status within society and the groups they belong to. In order to more specifically examine the concept of social class and to look at unemployment and how it can lead to crime and deviance, this essay will focus on three areas. First, a brief description of social class will be presented.
Next, a comparison between capitalists and the proletariat, including the different roles they play within society and how they are perceived, will be given. Finally, how unemployment can lead to crime and deviance will be focused on. Social status can alter both the way an individual can perceive things and the opportunities that are presented to certain individuals. According to Macionis & Plummer “Being assigned a particular social class based on the amount of money you have, employment status, the location and size of your home, your health, and how educated you are contributes to the problems in society”[1998,p85-86].
These factors play a significant role in the lower class. The upper class, also known as capitalist, tends to be the most powerful within society. They are the old and rich who derive their wealth through inheritance over several generations; they own companies in which they have people working for them. Social class is basically an economic phenomenon and is defined by an individuals’ position in the social relations of production. According to Marx “Tendency for ownership to reside in a class had created social rule in producers and non producers of labour” [Macionis ; Plummer, 1997, p 76].
It was seen that the capitalists had control over the physical means such as property and social means such as labour power of production. In other words, class is not defined by income or occupation but rather by ownership, control in the system of production [Macionis ; Plummer, 1997, p 267-268]. The middle class, also known as bourgeois, tends to be people who have a higher income and it may become even greater if husband and wife work. This allows the families to gradually accumulate considerable property; they live in a comfortable house in a fairly expensive area.
According to Macionis ; Plummer “the majority of middle class children receive university education”. [1997, p. 272-273]. Suggesting that children whose parents are in well earned jobs and have a high income tend to go to university and go on to high prestige occupations such as doctors, lawyers etc. It can be seen that higher class are much better than the rest of the class because they own means of production and are in top level executive position and are heirs who have high income mainly from assets, Moreover they are seen as the more dominant class.
According to Macionis and Plummer they are portrayed as “better within society” [1997, p. 274]. They have a better life within society because of their family back ground. Children born into high income families are more likely than those born into poverty to enjoy health, achieve economically, succeed in their life’s work and live well into old age [Macionis, Plummer, 1997, p. 275]. Furthermore, those children in middle class are also likely to enjoy good health and go into university education if their parents manage to sustain their high income jobs.
However proletariat lower class people are economically, politically and socially marginalised and excluded; because they are individuals with some or non high school education who work part time or are unemployed and on welfare benefits with low income[Morrison, 1995, p. 248-249]. The concept behind this is believed that as Lower Class are poor they are mobilized by the entire mass of society as poor due to the immense leverage which the common conscience has over the beliefs and social practise of the group [Morrison, 1995, p. 129].
They live between unemployment and the labour market of causal and temporary work, which clearly shows that the division of labour began to develop creating a separation between means of production and commerce [Morrison, 1995, p. 50]. From an early age children within Lower Class are exposed to the risk factors more frequently, but they also experience more serious consequences from these risks. They are vulnerable to negative events in their lives such as single parenting Social isolation and unemployment [MacDonald, 1997, p. 30-31].