Criminal justice is tied to social diversity and therefore, to understand criminology, one has to focus on the social history


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Criminal justice is tied to social diversity and therefore, to understand criminology, one has to focus on the social history of the society. Over the course of the class, I have been able to learn a lot of things that are consistent with my personal perspective. Basing my opinions from the book Crime as Structured Action: Gender, Race, Class, and Crime in Making by James W. Messerschmidt (1997), there are various thoughts and claims that I tend to perceive as being true in relation to understanding criminal justice. The book is divided into four chapters under which case studies are discussed in relation to understanding crime as structured action. The case studies have been used in the book to shed more light on the basic elements of structured action theory, as for a person to get deeper infight on crime, they must have an understanding and as well appreciate how the structure and action are connected inextricably on the ongoing activity of doing gender, race, and class.

The structured action theory has been used in most of the historical and social settings defining two crucial components for understanding crime. The two components include; inseparability of structure and action, which stipulates that the social structures are realized only through social action and structure is the necessary condition for social action. The other component includes the situational salience of doing gender, race and class, for this component, gender, race, and class are not absolutes and are not equally significant in every social setting where crime has been committed. That is, the accountability to specific categories depending on the social setting is more salient that the accountability to other categories.

I do conform with the author’s claim that the understanding of crime as structured action calls for new forms of research as the framework of the structured action theory is essential in the provision of concepts that are relevant to a variety of methodological approaches that range from the historical and documentary research to life histories and ethnographies. The accomplishment of types of gender, class, race, and crime are all based in history, and as history is subjected to change over time, so do their meanings. Therefore, the key element to the future research could be tracing the historical transformation as well as the differences among gender, race, class, and crime. To further explain this concept, chapter one of the book illustrates how the reconstruction created a new social connect in which the alarming ideology regarding the African American male sexuality was constructed and consequently resulted to a pronounced public mob violence that was facilitated, white supremacist men. During the reconstruction period, race and gender grew particularly salient to actuating crime. The white supremacist men constructed a specific type of whiteness and hegemonic masculinity through lynching.

In America, African American men have long been associated with criminal offenses since the time of slavery (Gerstenfeld, 2017). But this trend has continued to be eminent over centuries with the main reason being racial discrimination. Criminal justice in the US does not promote equality, as most of the offenders are not subjected to justice. Taking a look back in history, the whites were the dominant race and thus committed all types of heinous crimes; unfortunately, none of them were brought to justice. The United States has the largest criminal justice system in the world, with more than 6.7 million individuals under the correctional units. Despite having the biggest rates of incarceration, the United States justice system is filled with disparities in regard to racial discrimination.

There is a high probability of African American men to be arrested in the United States, and once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted. In the event of conviction, there is a probability that the African Americans will face a lengthy prison sentence. According to statistics, African American adults are more likely to be incarcerated, around 5.9 times that the whites. One out of three African American born boys are more likely to go to prison in the course of their lifetime. Males have a higher probability of being imprisoned compared to females as the racial disparities in females are less substantial than among males. According to this, there is a clear explanation of why in relation to gender, males of the black community are at a higher risk of getting to prison than women. African American men are more aggressive, and this can be the reason they are targets of the law enforcement.

The United States, in effect, operates two distinct criminal justice systems that include one for the rich and the other for the poor and the people of color (Kadish et al. 2016). Due to this, the system can be deemed to be based on the class system that is more lenient to the rich than the poor. The rich in the US are able to access a vigorous adversary system replete with guarantees of constitutional protection for the defendants. In contrast, the experiences by the poor and the minority defendants within the US criminal justice system tend to differ significantly due to various factors that lead to overrepresentation. The US has created and at ten same times perpetuated policies that are aimed to allow racial disparities to exist in its criminal justice system for a long time, and therefore does not uphold the concept of fairness and equality to all. Thus, based on the above evidence, the criminal justice system is determined by the social diversity of the community, and this can be witnessed by the historical observations of the past criminal records. I thus do agree that crime is a structured action based on gender, race, and class.


Gerstenfeld, P. B. (2017). Hate Crime. The Wiley Handbook of Violence and Aggression, 1-13.

Kadish, S. H., Schulhofer, S. J., & Barkow, R. E. (2016). Criminal law and its processes: Cases and materials. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Messerschmidt, J. (1997). Crime as structured action: Gender, race, class, and crime in the making. Sage.

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