The paper ‘the saints and the roughnecks’ by Chambliss use two groups of teen age boys to illustrate the effects of social classes in the society. Both groups comprise of high school students in a moderate sized school despite either of the hailing from different classes of families. The aim of this paper is to use Chambliss’ study to analyze how class and not crime in most cases determines an individual’s social reputation and his and how the police handle him.
The researcher discovers that the saints who came from an affluent or upper class families had a good reputation in school hence obtained good grades ,four of the eight saints were recognized as ‘school wheels’. The saints always managed to escape punishment at school although they were among the most delinquent boys at Hannibal High. Their troublemaking nature was taken to be “sowing their wild oats” by the police, teachers and the society. He also discovered that the saints later got white collar jobs. On the other hand, the roughnecks, who hailed from low class families, did not perform well in school and they always had problems with teachers. He discovered that roughnecks were seen as troublemakers by the society and hence they could not escape police punishment although their crimes were as few though more serious.
These findings surprised me because what happens is unacceptable according to the social norms of the society. There is open injustice in this cosmopolitan society where people are treated, not according to social expectation and rule of law but according to one’s class. Students not only receive grade s which they do not deserve, but they are also not punished when they do mistakes.
I have observed similar situations as the ones described in Chambliss’ paper. As a student, both in high school where students from rich families were given more study material, appointed as school captains and other school leadership positions. Punishment also depended how smartly looking, bright, tribe and the social class a student a student seemed to come from. Most of the students who performed poorly, did not dress smartly reflecting their social class, and occasionally caught in minor crimes were severely punished, suspended and looked down upon by the society. Those who did have the above characteristics hardly have any trouble with anyone and they are always excused when they are caught in mistakes. Many youths from poor family backgrounds or those who lack adequate social support and by one reason or another have no jobs are often rounded up, prosecuted and charged of crimes such as idling, loitering or other crimes tagged to them hence some end up in jail. These incidences are quite prevalent in the media.
The saints were intelligent students who happened to engage in series of petty crimes. This enabled them to maintain a positive image before the society. Therefore the society expected them to get white collar jobs when they complete their studies. Their crimes were not taken seriously. However, the roughnecks were not very intelligent as seen by their average grade ‘C’. They were more delinquent, a factor that made the society they were heading for trouble. The society had no hope of the roughnecks getting white collar jobs since they would be imbedded in crime.
The paper ‘‘Saints and Roughnecks,’’ uses two groups for a study on the effects of social class on the society’s perception of one’s reputation and fate with the police. It is proved that injustice brought about by favoring the upper class individuals in the society always affects the judgment of one’s true character.