Social Inequality in Victimization
Women, blacks, and youth have the highest rates of criminalization, and there are several reasons to help explain this. Sociologists and theorists create and use perspectives to understand and analyze these reasons, and among the perspectives of functionalism, conflict, feminist, and social interactionism, the conflict perspective can explain why women, African-Americans, youth, and low-income people have the highest rates of violent crime victimization and exploitation.
For instance, a result of criminalization of “victimless crimes” such as prostitution is one less way for people to make money. Some critics even believe it’s a waste to punish perpetrators of victimless crimes, including Gavin Newsom. The criminalization of victimless crimes can be seen as a way for people in power to remain in power; this puts the women and low-income people at a disadvantage.
Victimless crimes also can demonstrate another argument of the conflict perspective; crime is a way to define and perceive one’s social status. How one is treated by law enforcement is a way for society to view and label a person. Because the law deems drug use, gambling, and other mala prohibita as “crimes,” people who partake those activities can be seen as low-lives, thugs, inappropriate, or other negative things.
However, some people are forced to do these things because of low finances and other factors. For instance, low gender equality can force women or low-income people to gamble; they need to earn money in some way, and if there are no jobs, they may need to find an alternative way to pay bills. The same goes for Black people; they have the highest rates of victimization, and this can be explained by several structural factors, including unemployment and poverty and other economic disadvantages. These factors are strong reasons for people to take matters into their own hands, often drastically.
They are also controllable by the power elite, and it can be said that those in power create policies and laws in order to preserve their own power. Conflict creates and maintains group solidarity by defining and utilizing boundaries between groups; when society defines a crime and judges the people who commit them, the lines are drawn and power is upheld by those who make the labels.