Marxist Theories of Crime & Deviance 1

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  • Marxist theories of crime & deviance 1
    • Criminogenic capitalism
      • Gordon (1976) argues that crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and is found in all social classes even though official stats make it seem otherwise
        • Gordon argues crime in inevitable in capitalism as it is criminogenic and by its very nature it causes crime as:
          • Poverty may mean that crime is the only way for WC to survive
          • Crime is the only way WC can obtain advertised consumer goods
          • Alienation and lack of control over their lives can lead to frustration and aggression leading to crimes in the WC
      • Criminogenic capitalism evaluation
        • Strengths
          • Unlike functionalists Gordon does account for criminal and deviant behaviour committed by WC and middle class
        • Weaknesses
          • Theory suggests that crime only occurs due to capitalism which cannot explain why crime occurs in communist society's
    • The state and law making
      • Marxists only see law making and enforcement serving the interests of the capitalist class
      • Chambliss (1975)
        • Argues that all laws created ultimately benefit the ruling class
        • Studied crime in Seattle (1978) and concluded that crime is committed throughout the social strata but the prisons were largely filled with those who had committed petty offences
      • Box (1983)
        • Argued that most people convicted of serious offences are young uneducated males who live in poor areas and are often ethnic minorities
        • Claims health and safety regs were made to placate workers
      • Reiman (2001)
        • found that the more likely a crime is to be committed by higher class people, the less likely it is to be treated as a criminal offence by the
    • Ideological functions of crime & law
      • The law crime and criminals also perform an ideological function for capitalism
        • Occasionally laws are passed that appear to be for the benefit of the working class rather than capitalism, such as health and safety regs
          • However, Pearce (1976) argues such laws benefit the ruling class by keeping workers fit to work
      • Ultimately the ideological function aids the ruling class' ability to manipulate of all members of society. The ruling class control the values of society in two ways:
        • Socialisation (people are persuaded by the 'rightness' of capitalism by 'agencies' such as the media and this process creates the belief that criminals are WC
        • Threat of force (if socialisation fails working class are threatened with punishments for breaking laws which protect the powerful
      • Ideological functions of crime & law evaluation
        • Strengths:
          • Puts crime in wider structural context of society by focusing on inequalities caused by the capitalist system
        • Strengths:
          • Ignores relationship between crime and non class inequalities such as ethnicity and gender
          • Too deterministic as not all working class commit crime


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