According to statistics done in 2008, the United States has the leading record of crimes in the world at a rate of approximately 0.75 per 100,000 persons of the national population (Walmsley, 2009). In an attempt to explain the origin and rates of crime several theories emerged to handle this task. There have been biological and psychological theories which associated crime with the individual characteristics of human beings and the susceptibility of these individuals to crime. These two theories do not however explain the variation of the crime rates between rural and urban areas, different economic groups, social groups or neighborhoods. On the other hand, sociological theories give or rather attempt to give the reasons as to the variations of these crime rates. By taking the sociological perspective, there are other divergent perspectives of explaining the variations in crime; functionalist, conflict, feminist or interactionist perspectives. This paper seeks to explain how social forces such as race, gender and class influence and contribute to crime rates from the interactionist’s perspective.
When it comes to class, its influential capability is today a remarkable factor leading to the rise of crime rate. Picture this, a case between a rich and socially respected person and a poor person of low social stature whereby the poor person is the suspected/accused. For many, it seems obvious that the suspect is guilty even if all factors point to his innocence. Why, just because of the person’s positional view by the society. Such kinds of situations are likely to brand the poor person a criminal thereby leading to an increase in the crime rate. On the other hand, if the case was a reverse, even if the rich person was guilty as charged, but in one way or the other the ruling is in his/her favor, then the crime rate would definitely reduce. It is a clear indication from the perspective of an interactionist that class is a significant factor affecting the rates of crime in the United States.
Gender has been a very sensitive issue in many places all over the world. Women have been discriminated in endless ways but today their rights are well clearly stipulated in most of the worlds’ constitutions. As simple as this may seem, its influence in the rates of crime is staggering. Looking at all criminal records in the world, there is not a single nation in the world that the masculine crimes have exceeded the feminine ones. It is a clear indication that most crimes have been attributed to committers being the male. Society has mostly judged men as criminals, and in as much as the innocent ones are defended, most of them still fall as victims due to the blinded eyes of the society to see the gender rather than the truth. Situations in which a female has been found or accused or suspected of committing an offense have been on the rise but their criminalization has not been proportional to the reported cases. This is because of how society views the female gender. It has been seen unlikely for women to be criminals and as a result, their convictions have not been high, definitely bringing the crime rate to a lower level.
Personally, the interactionist’s perspective is very much prone to rebuttal opinions, but it is not to be ignored. The rates of crime cannot only be explained by biological and psychological theories. The sociological theories and specifically that of an interactionist, by far, give valid and convincing reasons to the factors affecting crime. Even though the origin of the first crimes cannot be explained using this theory, it is still very formidable in its attempt to expose the truth about the rates of crime.
Leon. 2012. Crime and Criminal Justice. Sage Publications, Inc.