Penal system has been influenced by the social and economic disadvantagesand can be seen in the family and economic lives of those who were formerly incarcerated. This social stratification has been produced by mass incarceration and has been endured for the given reasons: it is cumulative, invisible and intergenerational. The institutionalized population is usually seen to be present outside the official accounts of economic well-being. It has been seen that the prisoners coming from the lowest rungs of the society have no measure of unemployment or poverty. This has led to underestimation of the disadvantage of the groups having high incarceration rate. As the social and economic penalties are seen to flow from the incarceration stating that inequality is cumulative and is in fact increased for those coming from weaker economic opportunities.As stated in the Theory of the Leisure Class, “A certain standard of wealth in the one case, and of prowess on the other, is a necessary condition of reputability and anything more than this normal amount is meritorious.” Similarly, Karl Marx has also stated that “Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.”Furthermore, it has also been discussed that the people serving time in prison are seen to be directly associated with reduced job tenure, reduction in earning, reduced hourly wages and higher unemployment. Further, it has been seen that mass incarceration has been unequally distributed across the population and is concerned more with the poorly educated minority men who are living with demographic groups and disadvantaged communities. This prime reason of incarceration is from social forces like the variation in police surveillance and differential involvement in the crime.
Marx in his book has foreseen a revolution. According to him as the rich grow richer, all the workers will end up developing their true class consciousness or might even have a sense of shared identity on the basis of their constant exploitation by the bourgeoisie. According to him, the workers should unite and then rise so as to lead a global revolution. After the revolution, when the dust is settled the workers will own their own means of production so as to make the world into the communist. In this scenario, no one stratum would be given control over the wealth and everything will be owned with equal shares. Although his vision did not come true because the working class has become more educated and has achieved a good financial well-being. But the issue of incarceration has not yet been resolved (Wakefield, S. & Uggen, C., 2010).Similarly, Veblen has asked the industrial production system and their workers to be highly diligent, cooperative, and efficient and their employers have been concerned with making money. The status gain has been seen to increase with the glorification of exploit resulting in the exploitative leisure class and increase reverence for the wasteful leisure class and their members. According to Veblen, the capitalism will end as the working class has always felt poorer with the growth of the system. He suggested that with the concerns of individual regarding their own well-being, there are chances that capitalism will end. Therefore, Veblen and Marx, both are stating that capitalism must be abolished but have different concepts and ideas on both. Veblen, therefore, states that capitalism will cease because of its own success.
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Wakefield, S. & Uggen, C. (2010). Incarceration and Stratification. Annu. Rev. Sociol., 36(1), 387-406. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.012809.102551