Class, power and crime

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  • Class, power and crime
    • Marxism, class and crime
      • Crimogenic capitalism
        • 3 ways in which capitalism may lead to W/C crime
          • Poverty makes crime the only way to survive
          • Only way to obtain consumer goods
          • Alienation leads to frustration and agression
        • Gordon: crime is found in all social classes in capitalist society because it is a rational response to the capitalist system
      • The state and law making
        • Law making and law enforcement serve the interests of the capitalist class
        • The British forced a money economy on East African colonies and with it a tax system, creating a new type of crime
        • Snider: the state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of businesses or threaten their profitability
      • Selective enforcement
        • Powerless groups such as the W/C and EM's are criminalised by the justice system
        • Impact of this: crime appears to be largely a W/C phenomenon. This divides the W/C by encouraging workers to blame the criminals in their midst for their problems, rather than capitalism
      • Ideological functions of crime and law
        • Pearce: some laws are passed that appear to benefit the W/C because they also benefit the ruling class
        • The media and criminologists portray criminals as disturbed individuals, thereby concealing the fact that it is the nature of capitalism that makes people criminals
      • Evaluation of Marxism
        • Useful explanation of the relationship between crime and capitalist society
        • Shows the link between law making and enforcement and the interests of the capitalist class
        • Puts into a wider structural context the insights of labelling theory regarding the slective enforcement of law
        • Largely ignores the impact of non-class inequalities
        • Too deterministic
        • Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates e.g. Japan
        • Criminal justice system does sometimes act against the capitalist class
    • Neo-Marxism: critical criminology
      • A fully social theory of deviance
        • Six aspects
          • Wider origins of the deviant act
          • Immediate origins of the deviant act
          • The act itself
          • The immediate origins of the social reaction
          • The wider origins of social reaction
          • The effects of labelling
        • Two sources
      • Evaluation of criitcal crminology
        • Feminists: gender blind
        • Left realists: romanticises W/C crime; does not take crime on poor seriously and ignores its effects on W/C victims
        • Walton and Young: 'The New Criminology' combated the 'correctionalist bias' in most existsing theories and laid some of the foundations for later radical approaches that seek to establish a more just society
    • Crimes of the powerful
      • White collar and corporate crime
        • Sutherland aimed to challenge the stereotype that crime is a purely lower class phenomenon
        • Pearce and Tombs defined white collar crime as corporate whereas Sutherland defined it as occupational
        • Tombs: corporate crime does more harm than street crime because it has enormous costs
      • The invisibility of corporate crime
        • Lack of reporting on corporate crime and the sanitisation of it when it is reported
        • Lack of political will to tackle it
        • The crimes are often complex and law enforcers are understaffed, under-resourced and lacking technical expertise to investigate effectively
      • Consistently filtered out from the process of criminalisation at the level of laws and legal regulation
      • Evaluation
        • Nelken: strain theory and Marxism over-predict the amount of business crime - it is unrealistic to assume that all businesses would offend were it not for the risk of punishment
        • Crime is not always carried out in the pursuit of profit e.g. state agencies in  the former communist regimes
        • May be more profitable for a comapny to be law-abiding e.g. Braithwaite and US pharmaceutical companies


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