The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology

By Terence Morris | Go to book overview

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CRIME, DELINQUENCY, AND SOCIAL CLASS

A S a people, we often foster the notion that social class differences are superficial, perpetuated largely by those who have a vested interest in social and economic inequality. It is over half a century since Kipling wrote

'The Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady Are sisters under the skin.'

Indeed, such are the sentiments of almost every radical or egalitarian philosophy which sees equality of opportunity at the basis of an efficient society. The evidence of a great deal of social research, however, indicates that even in a welfare state the facts of social class continue to determine in an extraordinary degree the course of an individual's life from the cradle to the grave. The differences in health and infant mortality, for example, still persist, notwithstanding the rise in the standard of living of the lowest classes and the benefits of socialised medicine.1 In a

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1
There are wide margins between the mortality rates of the classes, notwithstanding a decline in the general mortality rate. Indeed, the gap between Class I and Class V has actually widened in the last 40 years.

"Different sections of the population have been very differently affected by recent social changes...; full employment, higher real wages and expanding social services have led to relatively greater improvement in the situation of building and dock labourers of Class V...for example than of clerks of professional people...however this different experience is not reflected at all in the infant mortality rates, despite the fact that there was so much room for improvement in the worst rates." Heady J. A. and Morris J. N., Mortality in Relation to the Father's Occupation", The Lancet, March 12th, 1955.

See also, Hare E., Mental Illness and Social Conditions in Bristol", Journal of Mental Science, Vol. 142, No. 427, 1956. also Hare, Mental Illness and Social Class in Bristol", British Journal of Preventive Social Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1956.

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