Realist Theories 1

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  • Realist Theories
    • Right Realism
      • Share a conservative, New Right political outlook and support a 'zero-tolerance' stance on crime.
      • Attitude to other theories - believe other theories have failed yo solve the problem of c rime. Regard labelling theory and critical criminology as too sympathetic to the criminal and hostile to the police and courts.
      • Practical solutions - mainly concerned with practical solutions to reduce crime. The best way is through control and punishment.
      • Crime is a product of three factors: biological differences, inadequate socialisation and the underclass, and rational choice to offend.
      • 1. Biological differences - Wilson & Herrnstein argue biological differences between individuals make some people innately predisposed to commit crime, due to personality traits e.g. aggressiveness, risk-taking or low intelligence.
      • 2. The underclass - effective socialisation dereases the risk of ofending. The nuclear family is the best agency for socialisation.
      • Murrary - the nuclear family is being undermined by the welfare state which is creating welfare dependency and encouraging the growth of the underclass who fail to socialise their children properly.
      • Critics argue that evidence for intelligence being biologically determined is limited. Even if it is, it may not explain offending; Lily et al found that differences in intelligence accounted for only 3% of the difference in offending.
      • Generous welfare provision has led to the growth of the benefit-dependent lone parent, since men no longer need to take responsibility for supporting their families.
      • Abesent fathers means that boys lack discipline and an appropriate model so they turn to delinquent models.
      • 3. Rational choice theory - Clarke - assumes individuals are rational beings with free will. deciding to commit crime is a choice based on rational calculation of consequences.
      • If the rewards appear to outweigh the costs, then people are more likely to offend. RR argue that crime rate is high because the perceived costs are low e.g. little risk of being caught and lenient punishment.
      • Criminals cannot be both rational actors freely choosing crime, while simultaneously their behaviour is determined by their biology and socialisation.
      • Felson - routine activity theory argues for crime to occur there must be a motivated offender, a suitable target and the absence of a 'capable guardian'. Offenders act rationally, so the presence of a guardian is likely to deter them.
      • Zero tolerance polices allow police to discriminate against ethnic minority youth, the homeless etc. They also result in displacement of crime in other areas.
      • Beleive it's pointless to trying to tackle the underlying causes of crime since they are hard to change, so they focus on the control and punishment of offenders.
      • Wilson & Kelling - argue that we msut keep our neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime taking hold.Any sign of deterioration, e.g. graffiti, must be dealt with immediately.
      • Zero-tolerance policing is one solution.
      • Crime prevention policies should reduce the rewards of crime and increase it's costs.
      • It ignores causes of crime e.g. poverty.
      • It is concerned almost solely with street crime, ignoring corporate crime, which is more costly and harmful to the public.
      • Over-emphasis control of disorderly neighbourhoods, ignoring underlying causes of neighbourhood decline.
      • RR could be used to explain professional utilitarian crimes, which may involve rational cost-benefit calculations. but it's harder to apply it to violent crime that results from an irrational outburst.


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