Marxism, Class and Crime

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  • Marxism, Class and Crime
    • Criminogenic Capitalism
      • Capitalism causes crime
      • Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the wokring-class and is therefore partially damaging to the working-class ad this may give a rise to crime.
      • Poverty means that crime is the only way the workng-clsss can survive
      • Crime can be the only way they can obtain consumer goods encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in utilitarian crimes,
      • Alienation and lack of control over their lives may lead to frustration and aggression, resulting in non-utilitarian crimes.
      • Crime isn't just a working-class phenomenon as the need to win encourages capitalists to commit white collar and corproate crimes such as tax evasion.
      • Gordon argues that crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and therefore is found in all classes.
    • The State and Law Making
      • Marxists see law making and law enforcement as only serving the interests of the capitalist class
        • Chambliss argues that laws to protect private property are the cornerstore of the capitalist economy.
      • The ruling class also have the power to prevent the introduction of laws that would threaten their interests
      • Snider argues that the capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of businesses or threaten their profitability.
    • Selective Enforcement
      • When it comes to the application of the law by the crimnal justice system, there is selective enforcement.
      • Powerless groups such as the working-class and ethnic minorities are criminalised, the police and courts tend to ignore crimes of the powerful.
    • Ideological Functions of Crime and Law
      • Laws are occasionally passed that appear to be for the benefit of the working class rather than capitalism.
      • Pearce argues that these laws benefit the ruling class as well, e.g. health and safety laws keep the workers fit for work.
        • By giving capitalism a 'caring' face, such laws also create false class consciousness among the workers.
      • Because the state enforces the law selectively, crime appears to be  working-class phenomenon.
        • This divides the working-class by encouraging the workers to blame criminals  for their problems, rather than capitalism.
    • Evaluation of Marxism
      • It ignores the relationship between crime and other inequalities such as ethnicity and gender.
      • It is too deterministic and over-predicts the amount of crime in the working-class.
      • Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates for example Switzerland.
      • Left realists argue that Marxism ignores intra-class crimes (where both the victim and criminal is from the same class.)


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