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Social Classes Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Sociology , Social Class , Countries , Wealth , Theory , Society , Money , Education

Words: 1700

Published: 02/11/2020



Social class is an age old concept referring to a group of people with similar status, power, influence and wealth. Social class refers to the social stratification of the society based on social, economic and educational status. However, the definition of class is not uniform across the countries and societies. There exist different theories of social class division and its impact on us. The word 'class' derives from the Latin word “classis”. During census people were categorized into different “classis” based on their wealth in ancient Rome. Wealth is still the biggest factor in determining class strata. This essay will highlight different theories of social class and different social factors that differentiate social classes, subsequently touching upon the probable social challenges encountered by someone while moving from one social ladder to another.

Social Class: Theories

Social class models are based on economics, sociology and psychology. Historically the most popular model is the common stratum model that divides society into three simple hierarchy of upper class, middle class and lower or working class. According to this theory, society is divided into different classes based on mainly two factors, economic and social. Apart from the common stratum model, there exists a Marxian class theory proposed by Karl Marx. Marx believed that class is a combination of subjective and objective factors. Objectively, a class shares a common relationship in terms of output. Subjectively, members of a class believe that they share some common interests. This class perception is not only a common feeling of shared interest of one’s own class but it also indicates how the society should be. As per the class theory of Marx, two classes - bourgeoisie and proletariat constitute the major two strata of the social class. Bourgeoisies are the wealthy section of a society controlling power through money. Proletariats are laborers who depend on bourgeoisies to earn money by selling labor. Marx explained in his theory about how ultimately bourgeoisies would be eliminated from the society and all would turn equal. Marx envisions a classless society in which there will be no class, no state and no need for money and everything will be shared and the society will run based on needs and not based on profits. Max Weber was a 19th century German philosopher and sociologist who presented another class theory. Weber’s theory is known as ‘Three component theory of stratification’. According to Weber, society is not stratified on the basis of economic status alone; it is also dependent on status and power. In Weber’s definition class or economic position definitely creates social strata but it is not the only factor. Status is another factor creating divide in the society. For Example, poets or saints may not be rich but they enjoy very high status or social class in the society. Power is another factor dividing society into different classes. For example, a person working in FBI may not be affluent monetary wise but he has immense power giving him a higher status in the society.

Modern Day Class Strata

In modern day world, social class stratification is based on the common three stratum model. This model divides the society into three strata - the upper class, middle class and lower class. Upper class is composed of people who are born wealthy or who are wealthy through inheritance or both. In most of the countries the upper class is determined by wealth. For example, in underdeveloped countries and developing countries like India, China, Kenya, Egypt and others a financially wealthy person always belongs to the upper class. The same is applicable in most of the developed countries as well. However, in some countries only people born into high society or aristocratic bloodlines are deemed as members of the upper class. Those who have amassed wealth through business or commercial activity are viewed as nouveau riche (New Charter University). This is particularly apparent in Britain where the concept of royal family and royal blood decides the upper or royal class. The third kinds of people considered to be upper class are politicians. In most of the countries, politicians are vested with huge power which gives them a social status one notch above the rest. Middle Class is the most dynamic among all class definitions. The definition of this class category changes with changing society and changing time. The common definition is that middle class are those people working on behalf of the owners to control and manage the laborers and they also work in highly skilled areas. Middle class definition of US is very broad and includes people who in many other societies will be considered lower class. The middle class concept in developed societies is broadening as more and more labor intensive work is now being outsourced to developing countries with only high end works being retained in developed countries. Middle class population is educated and highly skilled and in most of the cases earns enough money to live a decent life with secure future. Depending on the annual income bracket ranging from $50,000 to $199,999, American middle class is segmented into upper and lower middle class with upper middle class potentially earning between the range of $150,000 to $199,000 and lower middle class earning within the range of $50,000 to $74,999 (New Charter University). Upper middle class people are usually graduates with professional degrees practicing professions like law, banking, corporate sector, finance, engineering and other occupations. Lower middle class people are also highly educated involved in white-collar professions of teaching, nursing and the like. Lower class also known as the working class are the people working in blue-collar low paying jobs in factories, construction sites, restaurants and clerical positions. They have little or no economic security as they always live in the fear of losing their jobs. They don't have adequate technological expertise like the middle class to work in better paying jobs.

Changing Social Class: Challenges

All of us are born into some social strata of the society and cultural setting. Based on the class we receive education, healthcare, community and religious influences. This brings in some common behavioral pattern inside us knowingly or unknowingly. Most of us are born and die in the same social class (AAAS). People born in lower class have every possibility that they will also die poor. People born in the upper or middle classes are most likely to die as same. Only an individual or a group of individuals can move up the social ladder through massive individual or social initiative. As we have seen in the previous section that the main difference between a lower class person and an upper class person is the special skill and knowledge. This can be achieved through better education. Lower class people cannot move into the middle class strata of the society because for better education often money is required which they do not have. This barrier can be minimized by making education more affordable to lower class. We have seen more people moving into middle class where the basic education is same for all and is affordable by all. The US is one of the great examples of a society which has decreased its lower class by making basic education available to all. Moving into upper class from middle class is not that easy. The main difference between a upper class and middle class person is money. The main three things determining the upper class are wealth, high born and power. Middle class people cannot be high born and hence in order to acquire the status of upper class they have to either attain power or money. Power can be achieved by getting into positions of importance like Member of Parliament or minister of local, state or central government. Money can be achieved by getting into business ventures. On the other hand, getting down to the bottom of the social ladder seems to be an easier process. Upper class people who are born amidst wealth and power may lose all of it if they maintain an extravagant lifestyle and make injudicious investments.

Social class is an old concept that determines the social stratification existing in a society on the basis of economic position, social status and educational qualification. There are different theories of social class like common stratum model, Marxian class theory and Weber's three component theory of stratification. In today's world social class stratification relies on the common three stratum model which divides society into three distinct sections - upper class, middle class and lower class. Usually, based on the social setting and the availability of resources for learning skill and education, people born into each specific class die the same as they were born into. But since the difference between a middle class and lower class is the difference in education and skill, if education can be made affordable to all then chances of lower class people going one notch up the social ladder to middle class position are higher, but the same is not true for people aspiring to reach the upper class position because then they have to earn enough money and power to earn high status. Compared to difficulty in social climb, it is lot easier for one to climb down the social strata. A rich person can turn poor if he does no work and wastes money making bad investments.

Works Cited

Marx's Theory of Social Class and Class Structure, 28 Sept. 1999. Web. 14 July 2013 <http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/s28f99.htm> Shortell, Prof. Timothy. Weber's Theory of Social Class, Department of Sociology, Brooklyn College, Web. 14 July 2013 <http://www.brooklynsoc.org/courses/43.1/weber.html> Social Class in the United States, New Charter University, Web. 14 July 2013 <https://new.edu/resources/social-class-in-the-united-states> Social Class, Social Change, and Poverty, AAAS. Web. 14 July 2013 <http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/social-class-social-change-and-poverty/> Lareau, Annette and Conley, Dalton. Social Class: How Does It Work?, Russell Sage Foundation (August 2008). Print. Argyle, Michael. The Psychology of Social Class, Routledge: 1 edition (January 27, 1994). Print. Weber's View of Stratification, Boundless. Web. 14 July 2013 <https://www.boundless.com/sociology/understanding-global-stratification-and-inequality/sociological-theories-and-global-inequality/weber-s-view-of-stratification/>


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Essay on social class (918 words).

essay on social classes


Read this comprehensive essay on Social Class !

One of the important elements of social stratification is the ‘Class’. A social class is ‘a category or group of persons having a definite status in society which permanently determines their relations to other groups’. Social classes have been defined by various thinkers “in different manner. The notion of objectivity of class existence is the main contribution of Karl Marx. His emphasis is on the economic factors. Power, style of life and property determine the class status of individuals in the society.

Karl Marx defined the social classes by their relation to the means of production (ownership or non-ownership). In modern capitalist society there are two principal classes the capitalist and the proletariat.


Image Courtesy : borderzine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/philip-levine-utep-honors-class.jpg

Max Weber, like Marx, is another German thinker who has seen the importance of economic factor in the classification of a society. He has defined class as a group of persons having the same ‘life chances’ or social opportunities, as determined typically by economic conditions. He agreed with the fundamental tenet of Marx that control over property is a basic fact in the determination of the life chances of an individual or a class.

That is to say, the members of a particular class will have more or less chance of getting good things of life – things such as a high standard of living, leisure etc. Thus, Weber’s definition of class is broadly similar to that of Marx. To the economic dimension Weber added two other dimensions, prestige and power. He saw these factors as separate but interacting bases of social hierarchy.

His notions are that property creates classes, prestige creates status groups and power creates parties. Like Marx, Weber recognized the important role of property in giving rise to status group. However, he gave it less importance than Marx did. Weber had given emphasis on life-style in deciding status group. Weber says that status groups are formed on the basis of prestige and honour. He admits that difference in property can constitute the basis for differences in honour or prestige.

Many modern sociologists regard status as the basic criterion of social class. “A social class” as defined by Maclver and Page, “is any portion of a community marked off from the rest by social status”. According to this view, classes arise wherever social differentiations in terms of language, locality, faction or specialization are associated with a status hierarchy. These differentiations may give rise to significant class phenomena only when they develop common sentiments.

These sentiments imply feeling of equality among the members of one’s own class, a feeling of inferiority in relation to these above in the social hierarchy and a feeling of superiority to those below. What is most important in making class distinction is the sense of status which is sustained by economic, political or ecclestical power and by the distinctive modes of life and cultural expression corresponding to them. In this sense the status separates one class from the other. Thus, classes are status marked and group conscious strata.

It follows that the division of society into classes on the basis of status is unavoidable. But the primary determinant of status is unquestionably economic. In a class-ridden society, a man possessing wealth has resources through which he can exercise both economic and political power. Weber’s approach is, sociologically, more agreeable because he referred to the conditions which led to the different types of classes in a society. Social class are defacto groups and their basis is mainly economic. But they are more than economic groups.

Nature of Social Class :

1. the system is ubiquitous:.

Class system is a universal phenomenon. It is prevalent in all modern and complex social systems.

2. Class is an Economic Group:

Social classes are determined by their relation to means of production. A social class also includes wealth, property, income etc.

3. Class is also a Status Group:

Class is also related to status dimension. Status groups are composed of persons having the same life style and in joining similar social honour. Thus, status consciousness separates the individuals both physically and psychologically.

4. An Achieved Pattern:

In class system status is achieved, not ascribed. Class is open and elastic and mobility is possible. A man can, by his effort and initiative, change his class and thereby rise in social status.

5. Feeling of Class-consciousness:

Feeling of class consciousness is experienced among the members of a particular class. The members feel a sense of equality within their own class and a sense of superiority or inferiority in relation to the members of lower or higher classes.

6. Prestige Dimension:

The persons of a particular class develop status consciousness and this is reflected through the status symbols of different class groups. The status symbols of the upper classes are considered prestigious, whereas the status symbols of the middle classes are considered less prestigious.

7. Relatively Stable Group:

A class is a stable group. It is not temporary like a crowd or mob. Although social mobility in the class system is possible, class cannot be interpreted as transitory. Under certain extraordinary situations such as revolutions, movements etc. the class is subject to rapid transformation.

8. Varieties of Life-styles:

A particular social class is marked off from the other classes by its life-styles. Life-style include the mode of living such as, the dress pattern, the type of house, the leisure time activities, the mode of consumption, the exposure to media and the mode of communication etc.

Related Articles:

  • The Nature of Social Class
  • Social Class in India: Class Typology and Class Consciousness

Social Class

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5.1 The Impacts of Social Class

In the United States, a person’s social class has far-reaching consequences. Social class refers to the the grouping of individuals in a stratified hierarchy based on wealth, income, education, occupation, and social network (though other factors are sometimes considered) (“Hierarchy,” 2019). One’s position in the social class hierarchy may impact, for example, health, family life, education, religious affiliation, political participation, and experience with the criminal justice system.

Social class in the United States is a controversial issue, with social scientists disagreeing over models, definitions, and even the basic question of whether or not distinct classes exist. Many Americans believe in a simple threeclass model that includes the rich or upper class, the middle class, and the poor or working class (“Social Class,” 2020). More complex models that have been proposed by social scientists describe as many as a dozen class levels. Regardless of which model of social classes used, it is clear that socioeconomic status (SES) is tied to particular opportunities and resources. Socioeconomic status refers to a person’s position in the social hierarchy and is determined by their income, wealth, occupational prestige, and educational attainment.

While social class may be an amorphous and diffuse concept, with scholars disagreeing over its definition, tangible advantages are associated with high socioeconomic status. People in the highest SES bracket, generally referred to as the upper class, likely have better access to healthcare, marry people of higher social status, attend more prestigious schools, and are more influential in politics than people in the middle class or working class. People in the upper class are members of elite social networks, effectively meaning that they have access to people in powerful positions who have specialized knowledge. These social networks confer benefits ranging from advantages in seeking education and employment to leniency by police and the courts. Sociologists may dispute exactly how to model the distinctions between socioeconomic statuses, but the higher up the class hierarchy one is in America, the better health, educational, and professional outcomes one is likely to have (“Social Class,” 2020).

Physical Health

A person’s social class has a significant impact on their physical health, their ability to receive adequate medical care and nutrition, and their life expectancy. While gender and race play significant roles in explaining healthcare inequality in the United States, SES is the greatest social determinant of an individual’s health outcome. Social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status. Social determinants are environmental, meaning that they are risk factors found in one’s living and working conditions (including the distribution of income, wealth, influence, and power), rather than individual factors (such as behavioral risk factors or genetics). Social determinants can be used to predict one’s risk of contracting a disease or sustaining an injury, and can also indicate how vulnerable one is to the consequences of a disease or injury (“Social Determinants of Health,” 2019). Individuals of lower socioeconomic status have lower levels of overall health, less insurance coverage, and less access to adequate healthcare than those of higher SES (Figure 5.1).

Individuals with a low SES in the United States experience a wide array of health problems as a result of their economic position (“Health Equity,” 2020). They are unable to use healthcare as often as people of higher status and when they do, it is often of lower quality. Additionally, people with low SES tend to experience a much higher rate of health issues than those of high SES (“Social Class,” 2020). Many social scientists hypothesize that the higher rate of illness among those with low SES can be attributed to environmental hazards. For example, poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer grocery stores and more fast food chains than wealthier neighborhoods, increasing nutrition problems and the risk of conditions, such as heart disease (“Health Equity,” 2020). Similarly, poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer recreational facilities and higher crime rates than wealthier ones, which decreases the feasibility of routine exercise.

In addition to having an increased level of illness, lower socioeconomic classes have lower levels of health insurance than the upper class. Much of this disparity can be explained by the tendency for middle and upper class people to work in professions that provide health insurance benefits to employees, while lower status occupations often do not provide benefits to employees. For many employees who do not have health insurance benefits through their job, the cost of insurance can be prohibitive. Without insurance, or with inadequate insurance, the cost of healthcare can be extremely high. Consequently, many uninsured or poorly insured individuals do not have access to preventative care or quality treatment. This group of people has higher rates of infant mortality, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and disabling physical injuries than are seen among the well insured (“Health Care in the United States,” 2020).

essay on social classes

Health inequality refers to the unequal distribution of environmental health hazards and access to health services between demographic groups, including social classes. For example, poor and affluent urban communities in the United States are geographically close to each other and to hospitals. Still, the affluent communities are more likely to have access to fresh produce, recreational facilities for exercise, preventative healthcare programs, and routine medical visits. Consequently, affluent communities are likely to have better health outcomes than nearby impoverished ones. The role of socioeconomic status in determining access to healthcare results in heath inequality between the upper, middle, and lower or working classes, with the higher classes having more positive health outcomes (“Health Equity,” 2020).

Mental Health

Mental health describes a level of psychological well-being or the presence/absence of a mental disorder (“Mental Health,” 2018). From the perspective of “positive psychology” or “holism,” mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life and to demonstrate psychological resilience when confronted with challenges. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (“Mental Health,” 2020).

What counts as healthy enjoyment and resilience depends upon one’s class perspective. Members of different classes encounter different stressors—lower class people likely face more financial stress as it pertains to day-to-day sustenance and well-being, while upper class people might experience stress from the intense social pressures associated with elite circles. The evaluation of which mental states can be considered healthy and which require medical intervention also varies by class.

Mental health is a socially constructed and socially defined concept; different societies, groups, cultures, institutions, and professions have very different ways of conceptualizing its nature and causes, determining what is mentally healthy, and deciding what interventions are appropriate. Definitions of mental health depend on cultural understandings in addition to biological and neurological findings. Members of different social classes often hold different views on mental health. Similarly, different social classes have different levels of access to mental health interventions and to information about mental health. Thus, the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders varies widely by social class.

Family Life

Family life—marriage and childbearing patterns, household composition, and home stability—are strongly influenced by social class (“Introduction to Sociology/Family,” 2017). In the United States, the probability of a first marriage ending is substantially higher for couples with low socioeconomic statuses than for those in the middle or upper class. Research shows that the higher rates of divorce for individuals in lower social classes can often be attributed to the greater financial stress these couples face, though factors like class expectations can also play a role.

Probability of First Marriage Dissolution by Race/Ethnicity and Income (1995): This graph shows that among all races and ethnicities, low income households are more likely to experience divorce than middle and high income households are.

Globally, the birth rate in countries with large impoverished populations is much higher than in wealthier countries, indicating that income and wealth play a role in shaping family structures. Demographers have identified a direct relationship between average number of children per household and the economic development of a nation. Today, less developed countries struggle with overpopulation while many governments in developed countries are instituting policies to deal with low birth rates. In nations with high levels of fertility, upper class individuals tend to have more children than their lower class peers. In nations with low levels of fertility, upper class families exhibit even lower fertility than average (“Birth Rate,” 2020).

Social class has both a cause and an effect relationship with family composition (“Introduction to Sociology/ Family,” 2017). For example, single-parent households are likely to have a lower social class because they violate social norms. At the same time, single-parent families can contribute to financial and social instability. A single parent will often face higher costs (in the form of paid childcare), lower earnings (loss of the second parent’s income or loss of time spent at work), or both.

Education is a major component of social class, both directly and indirectly. Directly, individuals from higher social classes are more likely to have the means to attend more prestigious schools, and are therefore more likely to receive higher educations (“Social Class,” 2020). Indirectly, individuals who benefit from such higher education are more likely to land prestigious jobs, and in turn, higher salaries. Just as education and social class are closely intertwined, stratification in education contributes to stratification in social class.

Educational attainment refers to the level of schooling a person completes—for instance, high school, some college, college, or a graduate degree. Upper class individuals are likely to attend schools of higher quality and of greater prestige than those attended by their lower class counterparts (“Educational Attainment in the United States,” 2020). Because members of high social classes tend to be better educated and have higher incomes, they are able to offer greater educational advantages, such as private schooling, to their children as well (Figure 5.3). Upper-class parents are better able to send their children not only to exclusive private schools, but also to public state-funded schools. Such schools are likely to be of higher quality in affluent areas than in impoverished ones, since they are funded by property taxes within the school district. Wealthy areas will provide more property taxes as revenue, which leads to higher quality schools. Educational inequality is one factor that perpetuates the class divide across generations.

Such educational inequality is further reinforced by legacy student admission, the preference given by educational institutions to applicants who are related to alumni of that institution (“Legacy Preferences,” 2020). Germane to university and college admissions (particularly in the United States), this practice emerged after World War I, primarily in response to the resulting immigrant influx. Ivy League institutions admit roughly 10% to 30% of students from each incoming class based on this factor.

Chart showing the relationship between income and education from 1991 to 2003.

Social class, measured by socioeconomic status, is associated with individuals’ religious affiliations and practices. Religious affiliation has more to do with how religion is practiced rather than degree of religiosity (“Introduction to Sociology/Religion,” 2018). Members of lower classes tend to be affiliated with more fundamentalist religions and sect-like groups. Members of the middle class tend to belong to more formal churches. For example, American Presbyterians and Episcopalians (two highly formal Protestant denominations), tend to have above average socioeconomic statuses. Methodists and Lutherans (two moderately formal Protestant denominations) tend to have about average SES. Baptists and members of Protestant fundamentalist sects (which tend to be decentralized and informal) have below average SES (“Introduction to Sociology/Religion,” 2018). Variations in SES across denomination reveal a correlation between religious affiliation and social class.

Bar graph showing the median annual household income ranking by religious group in the year 2000.

Social class is not significantly correlated to religiosity, an index of how strongly religious a person is. Religiosity is measured by tracking frequency of church attendance, church group involvement, frequency of prayer, and other such markers of strength of religious practice. Members of each social class show a range of religiosity.

On the other hand, income, and therefore social class, is related to an individual’s denomination. When one looks at average income by religion, there are clear differences. The highest-earning religion on average is Judaism, with an average income of $72,000 in 2000. This is dramatically higher than average; the next highest-earning denomination is Unitarianism at $56,000. Jehovah’s Witness, Church of God, and Seventh Day Adventists are at the bottom of the income distribution, with $24,000, $26,000, and $31,000, respectively (“Introduction to Sociology/Religion,” 2018).

Religion is also linked with education. 72% of Unitarian and 67% of Hindu adherents are college graduates, while only 12% of Jehovah’s Witness and 15% of Church of God members graduated from college (“Introduction to Sociology/Religion,” 2018).

Social class impacts one’s level of political participation and political influence. Political participation refers to whether or not a person votes in elections, donates to campaigns, or attends public forums where decisions are made, such as town meetings or city council meetings, for example. Political influence refers to the extent to which one’s political participation achieves its desired results. For example, if one attends a public forum, is their opinion likely to be heard, or if they donate money, is a politician likely to support their desired policy?

Wealthy, well-educated Americans are more likely to vote and to donate money to politicians than lower class individuals (Figure 5.5). This trend means that middle and upper class individuals have greater political participation and greater political influence than those in lower positions. Additionally, higher status people are more likely to hold political positions than lower class people. An illustration of this is the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004. Both had millions of dollars of accumulated wealth, and they had higher degrees from Harvard and Yale, respectively (“Introduction to Sociology/Politics,” 2017).

Those who vote as members of a social class can be said to be participating in identity politics. Identity politics is a phenomenon that arose first at the radical margins of liberal democratic societies in which human rights are recognized, and the term is not usually used to refer to dissident movements within single-party or authoritarian states. Some groups have combined identity politics and Marxist social class analysis and class consciousness. During the 1980s, the politics of identity became very prominent and was linked with new social movement activism (“Identity Politics,” 2020).

This is a chart illustrating voter turnout in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election by race/ethnicity. The data come from the U.S. Census Bureau.

FIGURE 5.5 Percentage of voter turnout by educational attainment (2008 presidential election). Educational attainment, an indicator of social class, can predict one’s level of political participation. Those with high educational attainment are more likely to vote in elections than those with little education. (This work, Voter Turnout by Education 2008, is a derivative of Voter Turnout by Educational Attainment, 2008 US Presidential Election by Rcragun/Wikimedia Commons, which is used under CC BY 3.0. Voter Turnout by Education 2008 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Judy Schmitt.)]

Crime and criminal justice.

Criminal justice is the system of practices and government institutions directed at upholding social control, deterring, and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. The American criminal justice system consists of three main parts: (1) enforcement; (2) adjudication; and (3) corrections. These distinct agencies are the principal means of maintaining the rule of law within society (“Criminal Justice,” 2020).

The first contact an offender has with the criminal justice system is usually with law enforcement, most often the police who investigate a suspected violation and make an arrest. Next, the courts carry out adjudication or the legal processing of offenders to determine their guilt or innocence and sentencing. The courts serve as the venue where disputes are settled and justice is administered. Depending on the offense, either a judge or a jury determines whether the suspect violated the law and what their punitive sentence will be. If found guilty by the court, offenders are then turned over to correctional authorities. Correctional authorities may include prison wardens or social workers, depending on the type of offense (“Criminal Justice,” 2020).

Like all other aspects of criminal justice, the administration of punishment has taken many different forms throughout history. Early on, when civilizations lacked the resources necessary to construct and maintain prisons, exile and execution were the primary forms of punishment. Historically, shame punishments have also been used as forms of censure (“Criminal Justice,” 2020).

The most publicly visible form of punishment in the modern era is the prison. Prisons may serve as detention centers for prisoners after trial. Jails are used for containment of the accused before trial. Early prisons were used primarily to sequester criminals and little thought was given to living conditions within their walls. In America, the Quaker movement is commonly credited with establishing the idea that prisons should be used to reform criminals. This can also be seen as a critical moment in the debate regarding the purpose of punishment (“Criminal Justice,” 2020).

In the United States, criminal justice policy has been guided by the 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, which issued a ground-breaking report titled The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society. This report made more than 200 recommendations as part of a comprehensive approach toward crime prevention. Some of those recommendations found their way into the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The commission advocated a “systems” approach to criminal justice, with improved coordination among law enforcement, courts, and correctional agencies. The commission defined the criminal justice system as the means for society to “enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community” (President’s Commission, 1967, p. 7).

Birth rate. (2020, January 29). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Birth_rate&oldid=938230085

Criminal justice. (2020, January 9). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Criminal_justice&oldid=934990442

Educational attainment in the United States. (2020, January 29). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States&oldid=938187143

Health care in the United States. (2020, February 9). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Health_care_in_the_United_States&oldid=939993144

Health equity. (2020, February 17). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Health_equity&oldid=941219790

Hierarchy. (2019, September 29). In Wiktionary. https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=hierarchy&oldid=54378944

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