dangerous classes

Quick Reference

A term taken from the title of the book (The Dangerous Classes of New York) published in 1872 by the American social reformer Charles Loring Brace. His ‘dangerous classes’ included the vagabonds, waifs, predatory criminals, vagrants, and prostitutes that emerged out of the poor underclass in late 19th-century New York city. Sociologists and criminologists have sometimes argued that contemporary policing policies (for example in relation to drugs control) are still informed by this concept, and contain a hidden agenda which aims either to identify ‘public enemies’ who can be blamed for various economic and social problems, or to suppress members of today's ‘dangerous classes’ (immigrants, youths, various minority groups) in the interests of public order and security (see, for example, Diana Gordon, The Return of the Dangerous Classes, 1994).

Subjects: Sociology.

Reference entries