Neo-Marxist theories of crime

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  • Neo-Marxist theories of crime
    • Neo-marxist theories of crime
      • Capitalism is a crime because of its underlying greed and individualism
      • There is an unequal distrubution of power under capitalism
      • There are competing social classes, each with their own interests.
    • Background to neo-Marxist criminology
      • They saw criminals as heroic and as victims of society, rather than victims of American functionalism.
      • They took the view that crime was a political act representing working class rejection of capitalism.
      • Neo-marxism was an attempt to combine interactionism with critical sociology in the form of Marxism.
    • The New Criminology
      • Sociology of crime offered a new approach to the understanding of crime based on and developing Marxist theories.
      • The best-known critique of traditional sociology of crime was The New Criminology (1973), presented by Taylor, Walton and Young as a 'fully social theory of deviance'.
        • Deviants are part of society as a whole and so should be studied with reference to social institutions and structures.
        • There is a failure to understand the nature and origin of power in capitalism
    • Neo-Marxists and issues of race
      • Stuart Hall et al.
        • In Policing the Crisis, Richard Hall examines street crime among young black youths in London in the 1970s.
          • Young black men were protesting against racism and capitalism and being labelled criminal in the process.
          • Crime was a moral panic created by the media and the government to distract attention from political problems and poorly performing economy.
      • Both Hall and Gilroy claim that ethnic minorities are stereotyped as more criminal than the white majority population.
        • They claim that as the CJS and police act on institutional racism, they reify a stereotypical view that black people and Asians are criminal.
      • Gilroy said that statistics on black crime do not reflect the reality of what is happening on the streets but instead the preconceptions of the police.
    • Assesments of neo-Marxist theories of crime
      • Neo-marxism brought race and class issues into analyses of crime, with reference to law enforcement, prosecution and discrimination.
      • Neo-marxism tends to call for revolution and social change in general terms but is not clear about how this is to be achieved.
      • The neo-marxists' view of the poor is probably naive and romantic, and they are wrong to think that the poor should steal from the rich, but from other people, rather than the other way round.
      • Both Hall and Gilroy take the view that ethnic minorities are no more criminal than other groups in society and then go on to suggest that if they are more criminal, then it is because of racism. This is contradictory. Black people can't be both resisting capitalism through crime and also no more criminal than others.


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