Inequalities of Crime

Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Interim status: Citation only.

Daly, Kathleen and Lincoln, Robyn (2006) Inequalities of Crime is a chapter in Crime and Justice: A Guide to Criminology, (Third Edition)Goldsmith, Andrew, Israel, Mark and Daly, Kathleen (eds), Lawbook Co., Sydney, 2006, Chapter 12, pp. 243-262.

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2006 HERDC submission


This chapter explores seven major propositions on the relationship between crime and social inequality, moving from the societal level to the individual criminal act. We then turn to the image that criminologists have of inequalities of people and the ways they explain the disproportionate presence of disadvantaged groups in the criminal justice system. This image, which we term the familiar analysis of inequality, focuses on class, and to a lesser extent, on race/ethnicity and age. However, the familiar analysis has a major flaw: It ignores sex/gender. When sex/gender is drawn into the analysis, two observations can be made. The first is that it is males who are most likely to offend or to be subject to criminalisation. The second is that men's private violence, that is, violence against women and children they know, is not addressed. The familiar analysis is also flawed because it collapses race and class, using racial classificiation as a substitute for class. Finally, the familiar analysis utilises elements of inequality in a categorical fashion and thus fails to acknowledge the inter-sectionality of class, race/ethnicity, gender and age. We explore the ways in which crime is predictably structured by multiple forms of inequality, even as we know that it is enacted and experienced within complex and contingent configurations of power.

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This document has been peer reviewed.