This report first looks at past instances where similar crimes committed by the rich and poor
have been handled by courts and why it might help fuel some instances of crime. Further, it
delves into some legislative and policy framework of crime handling in the US and UK and how
it has helped increase or reduce crime. It then looks at the role of media in helping propagate
crime. Next, I explored anti-social behavior and substance abuse and its relation to crime, the
socioeconomic impact of the behavior of criminal on the state and communities, basic principles
of what makes a crime be labeled a crime and finally, the various theories that link between
economic and crime strain factors.
Keywords: Socioeconomic effects, social constructionism, social and economic theories,
social contexts of crime.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 3
What Role Does ‘Economic Marginalization’ and ‘Social Exclusion’ Play in Crime?
Jora (2019) observes that the 2008 financial crises wiped away about 7% of the US GDP but The
Department of Justice (DOJ) sent no one to prison because somehow, in most of the United
States, you cannot simply prosecute a company, you can only prosecute someone at the top of it.
Such legislation have led to white-collar criminals getting emboldened and further their white-
collar crimes as they’ve seen the cost benefit of their criminal activities because only scapegoats
are sent to prison.
On the other hand, no rich person has ever been on the death row. For example from
1992 to 1999 in Harris County, Texas, anyone who could afford a lawyer was not convicted to
death sentence, in spite of them committing similarly heinous crimes as those defendants who
could only hire a public attorney.
Panter (2017), submitted about The World Bank’s Equality Project which was set-up to
examine institutional factors that obstruct access to financial systems and labor market by ethnic,
religious and sexual minorities. These policy and legal restrictions directly affect the ability to
effect proper economic performance. Consequently, this affects the economy because of the huge
human capital wastage. This means large sections of the population will not access basic human
services, sufficient and secure housing the opportunity to acquire good jobs, best education,
personal security and other import socioeconomic matters. Such social and income inequalities
will certainly lead to social unrest.
The said Inclusion Matters project made a compilation of the legal structure of six
random study countries: Morocco, Tanzania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Vietnam and the Netherlands. In
these study countries, laws that that were drafted with the intention to protect minorities from
discrimination in the labor market were studied and were found to be quite comprehensive.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 4
However, a cursory look at the study countries’ anti-discrimination laws in the property and
social-protection fields were found to be insufficient and in some instances, were in direct
contravention with the very same nation’s non-discrimination laws. Sexual minorities were the
least protected under the study country laws. In Morocco and Tanzania, homosexuality is a crime
and they are often persecuted by the state. There are no legal protections for sexual minorities
and consequently, hate crime and economic marginalization is prevalent in these two states.
In the UK, there was a lack of effective national policies to engage local communities or
address the lack of creation of opportunities for people thus leading to structural causes of
decline. This led to social problems like drugs, community breakdown, bad schools, crime and
The Unit’s report recommended an approach called the three ‘strands’ to help combat the
prevalent exclusion of communities socially. Firstly, action had to be taken to ensure help was
found to help the lone parents, disabled and unemployed. This was to go hand-in-hand with
dealing with the issues of failing crime, public health and schools. The second strand entails
introducing or improving funding for programs that support regeneration of poor neighborhoods.
The third strand is all about improving interdepartmental cooperation and even the involvement
of hired experts so as to ensure coherence and a ‘joined-up’ approach.
Greer (2013) is of the view that image and representation portrayed by the media
permeates all sections of social existence. The Media connects to and emphasizes political and
social concerns. The media not only entertains, it illuminates, sometimes erroneously, the state of
the nation. Whether as news or fiction, the media churns out huge quantities content that vividly
depicts deviance, violence and control.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 5
Social Contexts of Crime
Anti-social behavior can manifest in many ways and it can develop through normal social
interaction either in the family setting or in the wider community. It has been observed that
families can impact the causation of anti-social behavior for example, a parents’ history of
alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviors, parental and drug abuse, and economic distress within the
Socioeconomic Effects of Criminal Behavior
First off, the manufacture or illicit production and the possession or distribution of drugs
is a crime according to many societies. Secondly, the drug cartels can lead to other unrelated
crimes occurring for example homicides due to turf wars, illegal use of guns and terrorism.
Drugs may be used to make illegal money which will lead to money-laundering that will
doubtlessly ruin the economy. Research has also found that there is a relationship between
substance use and delinquent behavior. Individuals who engage in early sexual activity are more
likely to have engaged in delinquency and drug abuse. Teenage girls who have suffered early
pregnancy are reportedly to have engaged in increased prior use of drugs and alcohol.
Researchers in the US, after examination of deviant groups, concluded that although there
are a number of deviations, some kinds of crime or delinquency often come before addiction.
They reached the conclusion that an addiction career generally precedes the involvement in most
property crimes. When addiction occurs, property crimes increase, with a further increase in
narcotic use. One expert concluded that property crime occurrences were reduced significantly
when an individual’s addiction career was ended (4, p. 197).
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 6
Researchers have concluded that there is a correlation between social attitudes, drug
abuse and criminal activities. Users of opiates have led to the increase of criminal activities
several times over and many heroin addicts are not thrilled by the idea of getting treatment.
Social Construction of Crime
It has been observed that any behavior is only labeled a crime through the process known
as social construction. This means that the very similar behavior may be labeled criminal in one
place and while in another place, it will be considered an act of honor or in the same place but at
a different time. From a social constructionist’s perspective, whether certain behavior is labeled
legal or illegal is not reliant on the content of particular behaviors but in the societal response of
that behavior or the persons who committed it. As Berger and Luckmann observed in 1967,
social constructionism is not an objective exercise but the opinion of the meaning of behaviors
and events through the process of social interaction. Meanings of behaviors are socially
organized and defined and are therefore subject to social change. Behavioral meanings and
changes in their legal status results from social conflict for example racial discrimination,
assisted suicide and abortion policy changes in the US.
Theories That Link Socioeconomic Factors to Crime
Many theories have been advanced to link socioeconomic factors to crime. The first is
strain theory which tries to find out the motivation for individuals to commit crime. It posits that
normally, people will abide by rules and follow set down norms. It’s only when contradictions
are introduced to their lives and the resultant stress that they would cause them to commit crime.
Emile Durkheim's came up anomie which is a situation where rules break down or are confusing
so the people don’t know what to do or expect of other therefore a situation of chaos is created
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 7
where almost break the law so as to survive. Robert Merton came up with an idea that due to the
lack of equality between individuals when it comes to opportunity to achieve success, a observed
that there will be subsequent stress created that can lead to one committing crime so as to
achieve these goals.
Social Disorganization Theory
The Chicago School championed this theory which focuses on environmental factors that
affect an individual. This theory focuses on areas within the city which it christens ‘transition
zones’. These zones are distinguished by poor health, poverty, morally bankrupt and poor
housing. Such neighborhoods are normally characterized as being socially disorganized and are
subsequently prone to unorthodox methods of social control and soaring crime rates.
This theory of a rational economic man/woman proposes a model of crime whereby
individuals look at the cost-benefit of every crime and try to find its economic value. The
individual will try to rationalize the criminal act if the cost-benefit is worth it. That individual
will choose to do an honest day’s work and shun crime if that job pays well or if the
repercussions of being caught while committing a crime far outweigh the benefits of engaging in
This theory focuses on the individual’s personal responsibility to avoid crime. Instead of
asking why individuals engage in offending, it looks at reasons why they are unlikely to offend.
This theory focuses on morality rules and codes that individuals have internalized.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 8
Routine and Opportunity Activity Theory
This theory puts forward the suggestion that a crime to take place, the following three
qualifications need to be satisfied: a suitable target, a motivated offender and a lack of
security/guardianship. Rising unemployment and opportunities to find acceptable levels of legal
earnings will increase the people who are motivated to commit crime and the level of security.
This theory brings to the fore conflicts between the various societal classes; Marx
believed that in such a capitalist system, the society is made up of two classes, i.e. the business
owners (bourgeoisie) who are in control of the means of production and the workers (proletariat),
whose labor helps transforms raw materials into economically valuable goods. Because they
control the means of production, the bourgeoisie limit the workers’ ability to obtain what they
need to survive. To maximize on the acquisition of profits, business owners’ milk dry their
laborers while paying the lowest possible wages. The bourgeoisie use social institutions that
were formed to guard against such abuses as weapons against the proletariat. Marx thus thought
that the capitalist system would self destruct because the exploitation of the proletariat, who are
the most important cog in the wheel of capitalism, would eventually be compelled to revolt
against the bourgeoisie.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 9
From the foregoing, I tried to find if there was evidence of a relationship between
economic marginalization, social exclusion and crime. Chiricos (1987) studies found a
correlation between unemployment and crime but this was mostly in property crime. Jora looked
at how the DOJ handled cases involving the rich during the 2008 financial crisis and other white-
collar crimes and contrasted it with how blue-collar criminals, who are mostly the poor, are
treated and it’s easy to see how economic marginalization and legislative framework has led to
the proliferation of certain types of crimes.
I then looked at how some behaviors are labeled crimes while the very same behaviors in
some instances will not be labeled as such. I then looked at the various impacts of criminal
behavior on the state and for this I found a direct correlation between substance abuse and
deviance prevalence like robbery, rape and early teenage pregnancy. I also looked at how social
exclusion, especially at the family level, will lead an individual to engaging in crime.
Finally, I looked at several theories that link economic factors and crime. Here, we found
theories like strain, economic and Marxism theory which explain how economic factors can lead
to imbalances in someone’s life thereby leading to crime. On the other hand, I detailed how
theories like Marxism, social disorganization, control and opportunity and routine activity
theory that put forth theories which affect the individual at the social level, creating strife in the
person thereby leading that person to crime.
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 10
1. Enact legislation that creates an equal opportunities in the jobs market
2. Enact legislation that truly treats everyone equally before the eyes of the law.
3. Enact legislation and policies which create equality in the allocation of state resources
4. Ensure policies are implemented to ensure equality in the creation of opportunity in the
5. Enforce or enact policies that focus primarily on the prevention of the uptake of drugs.
Further steps should be taken to try to rehabilitate those who are hooked on drugs.
6. Measures should be taken to ensure that previously marginalized communities get
preferential treatment in all sectors of the society from this point onwards to ensure parity
is achieved at a faster pace
SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION AND EXCLUSION IN CRIME 11
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marginalization-minorities-do-laws-provide-needed-protections [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].
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