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Sociologist Robert Crutchfield examines the relationship between work and crime in ‘Get a Job’

In his new book, “Get a Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime,” University of Washington sociologist Robert Crutchfield takes on the popular notion that the unemployed are more likely to commit crimes. A former juvenile probation officer and parole agent, Crutchfield explains the nuanced links between work, unemployment and crime.

Q. You write that the stratification of labor contributes significantly to a person’s lifestyle and whether or not they commit crimes. Can you explain?

A. When someone has a low-end job (what some scholars refer to as secondary sector jobs), such jobs don’t pay well, and have few or no benefits and limited prospects for the future. Young adults in that situation may feel like they don’t have to conform to society’s expectations, and are at risk of getting involved in crime because they are likely to spend time with similar young men. People with good jobs, what some scholars call primary sector jobs, by contrast have something to lose if they do not constrain their own lifestyles. So they spend less time in situations where crime might occur. The stratification of labor that I write about is the structuring of the labor market into primary sector (good) jobs and secondary sector (bad) jobs. (more…)

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