Blau and Blau (1982) were first to test the hypothesis that variations in rates of urban criminal violence largely result from differences in racial inequality in socioeconomic conditions. They used data on the 125 largest American metropolitan areas and found that socioeconomic inequality between races, as well as economic inequality generally, increased rates of criminal violence.
Once economic inequalities were controlled, the study showed that poverty no longer influenced these rates. Therefore, these results imply that if there is a culture of violence within the lower classes, its roots are pronounced in the anger and frustrations from economic inequalities. Brownfield (1986) examined the relationships between violent behaviour and various measures of social class by analyzing police records and questionnaire data. They found that the measures of disreputable poverty, such as unemployment and welfare status were the strongest correlates of violent behavior. They proposed that the frustrations and anger associated with unemployment and being on welfare are aggravated by the lack of fundamental necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter among some of the disreputable poor. Thus, their findings can also be explained by an environment of absolute deprivation.
Crutchfield (1989) found that the relationship between poverty and rates of violent crime did not hold when the structure of the labor force was taken into account. They suggest that the relationship depends heavily on the distribution of workers in the primary and secondary occupational sectors, and upon levels of unemployment. They offer the plausible theoretical interpretation that when a large pool of people exists in an unstable work situation people are hypothesized to develop weaker bonds to their careers, places of employment, and coworkers which is associated with an increased likelihood of criminal behavior.However, Parker (1989) found that poverty was more important and consistent in predicting crime compared to groups belonging to “subcultures of violence”.
Poverty was significantly related to three of four investigated types of homicide, with it being the dominant predictor for family intimate homicides and other felony homicides. These findings are in line with the deprivation argument, which suggests that economically deprived individuals direct violent behaviour towards those closest to them, such as their spouse. The findings related to other felony homicides can also be understood in terms of a general link of poverty to crime due to deprivation.Taylor and Risman (2006) found that class statuses are important for how people feel and express anger. Their results indicated that lower, working, and middle class respondents felt more anger than upper class respondents.
The findings also showed that women with higher education and income felt more anger, although this effect was absent for men. These findings are in the opposite direction of expectations and previous research, but it is proposed that gaining class privilege through education and higher incomes may give women a “sense of entitlement to anger”. This suggests that subjective social classes works differently for men as lower class men are much angrier, perhaps because they might relate more to subjective identity than to material conditions. Henry (2009) investigated the relationship between social class and violence through the lens of his low-status compensation theory.
The theory posits that status disparities threaten the sense of social worth of those who belong to the lower status groups. This threat to their worth is managed or compensated for through the vigilant defense of their existing sense of worth, which is linked to a greater likelihood of violence. In line with his theory, the study found that those who were lower in status endured more stigmatizing experiences and maintained more self-defensiveness in their social interactions. As a result of this, low-status people were more likely to show aggressive patterns of behavior and had higher murder than high-status people. Park et al (2013) tested the hypothesis that the association between social status and anger expression depends on cultural context. Consistent with the assumption that lower social standing is associated with greater frustration stemming from life adversities and blocked goals they found that Americans with lower social status expressed more anger, with the relationship mediated by the extent of frustration.
In contrast, Japanese with higher social status expressed more anger, with the relationship mediated by decision-making authority thus confirming with the assumption that higher social standing affords a privilege to display anger. Therefore, anger expression was predicted by subjective social status among Americans, whereas among Japanese it was predicted by objective social status. Future Directions The above literature has established that the link between lower social class and higher rates of crime and violence can be explained by the expression of anger stemming from deprivation. However, research has yet to determine how exactly the biological and neural underpinnings of anger are shaped and modified differently according to social class. Such an effort could contribute greatly to the recently emerging field of cultural neuroscience (Kitayama & Park, 2010).
The findings of the review also show that women, as well as different cultures may relate anger to social class differently. Therefore, another direction for the future that this analysis suggests is more research that explores whether the causes and consequences of inequality are similar or distinct across categories of gender and race. Finally, it would be beneficial to investigate the differences in expression of anger between objective and subjective social status. Henry’s (2009) low-status compensation theory alludes to the detrimental and deep-rooted effects of subjective social status and further insight into this area could help develop interventions to reverse these effects and ultimately, the violence that comes with them.