Thursday, March 29, 2007
Inequality and Crime
Class differences are bread and butter for sociologists: what would they have to study without it? I found the above chart on the New York Times' website today, which focuses on the recent increase in income inequality, but also shows a gap that has been increasing since 1980. According to sociologists, the growing chasm should lead to Armageddon. Well, it's been more than 25 years, but I'm not sure that American society is less stable now than in the 70s. One indicator of instability--street crime--rose in the 70s and peaked around 1980. It should be peaking now if sociological theory were correct. On the other hand, the number of people incarcerated is MUCH higher now, so perhaps our get-tough policies are keeping a lid on the social chaos.