By Chris Grover
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Extra resources for Crime and Inequality
The first explores through the work of Carlen (1988) and Phoenix (1999) relationships between women’s offending and their material circumstances. This section demonstrates the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of these relationships, but follows Carlen’s argument that the offending of poor women can be explained through the class and sex ‘deals’ that structure the lives of poor women. The second section discusses the ways in which, as lone mothers, poor women are problematised as being a threat to social order because of an alleged innate inability to provide their children, especially their male children, with the ‘correct’ role models.
One class of poor people was never even called ‘poor’. I came to understand that they simply lived with low incomes, as my own parents had done when they were young. Then there was another set of poor people, just a handful of them. These poor people didn’t lack just money. They were defined by their behaviour. Their homes were littered and unkempt. The men in the family were unable to hold a job for more than a few weeks at a time. Drunkenness was common. The children grew up illschooled and ill-behaved and contributed a disproportionate share of the local juvenile delinquents.
However, the proportion who are aged under the age of 25 contradicts the claim the government makes that it has ‘eradicated long-term unemployment’ among young people (Blair 2006a: 2) Wages Young people have not enjoyed increases in wages over the past 30 years to the same extent as older people, for their wages have lagged behind increases in the average. So, for example, between 1980 and 2005 the average weekly wage for full-time adult male workers increased by approximately 475 per cent. However, for those male workers aged 16 to 21 years the average increase was 378 per cent (extrapolated from Department of Employment 1981 and National Statistics 2005).