Outline And Assess Marxist Theories Of Crime

984 words - 4 pages

Marxist theories of crime are based on conflict, as opposed to the functionalist and subcultural explanations of crime, which are based on consensus. They claim that society is divided by capitalism and there is a conflict between the upper-classes and the working-classes. They suggest that social inequality, as a result of capitalism, is the cause of crime. The starting point for Marxist and neo-Marxist approaches is the laws, and how the ways that they are created and enforced may favour certain groups; the ruling/upper-classes.
Traditional Marxist theories of crime were created by Bonger (1916) and then developed by writers such as Chambliss (1975). They suggest that the majority of ...view middle of the document...

Switzerland, for example, is a capitalist society and yet has a very low crime rate. This theory also over-emphasises certain types of crime and completely ignores others. What about domestic violence and rape?
In response to the criticisms of traditional Marxist theories of crime, a theory called the new criminology came about. Taylor, Walton and Young attempted to produce a ‘fully social theory of deviance’ in The New Criminology (1973), which became extremely influential as quite successfully blended Marxism and Interactionism together. Taylor et al thought it was important not just to focus on the motivation and influences of the individual, but to also observe the wider capitalist society in order to understand why certain crimes take place. Their theory of deviance included six (three Marxist, three Interactionist) dimensions which, they argued, together could be used to explain deviance. Hall et al’s (1978) study ‘Policing The Crisis’ used this approach when looking at the different factors involved in black crime, in particular ‘mugging’. They argued that the media coverage of the ‘muggings’ threw them into the public eye and this minor problem became the first thing on the political and policing agenda. Although Hall did not exactly follow the model created by Taylor et al, he used the basic ideas and framework.
Although Hall used the basic concepts of New Criminology in his study, some sociologists have argued that it is far too vague. It has proven very difficult to apply this perspective as it is so complex, even Hall’s study did not manage to stick rigidly to the guidelines. Some sociologists such as Rock (1988) thought that this theory of crime romanticised criminals far too much. Young agreed with this view, which later led him towards the development of Left Realism. New Criminology has been regarded by sociologists as idealistic, and it has been suggested that it produced ideas that did not take the problem of crime seriously or attempt to...

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