Marxism approach to Crime & Deviance

  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 01-04-13 22:19

Marxism approach to Crime & Deviance


  • Marxists argue the law is not an 'equal body', but is there to protect the values of the ruling class e.g. capitalism, in which keeps them rich and in power
  • Chambliss (1970) argues that ruling class ideology teaches 'commodity fetishism' (that we need the newest, latest technology, fashions etc) and when one cannot get these legitimatly through education and getting a good job, they turn to crime. This can be linked to Mertons theory on blocked opportunites
  • Gordon (1976) contends there are clear differences in how the law is enforced between street crime e.g. theft, and corporate crime e.g. companies breaking safety regulations. He calls this 'selective law enforcement'
  • Snider (1993) uses official statistics to illustarate how corporate crime is much more harmful that street crimes e.g. corporate crimes such as industrial diseases cause around 100,00 deaths per year in the USA, where as around 20,00 people are murdered per year (so 5x more deaths occur from corporate origins!!!!!!!!!)


  • Functionalists such as Durkheim argue the law is an 'equal body' in which represents the interests of the whole of society, equally, thus creating consensus
  • Not all Capitalist nations, have out of control crime rates, for example, Switzerland. The USA has the highest crime rates in the world, but that could be dependant on the size of the population, not capitalism.(
  • Not all buisnesses and corporations get off lightly, e.g BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico just kast year; the total settlement cost more than $4.5 billion (which is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States)
  • Interpretivists argue official statistics are invalid and do not give a true picture of crime rates, as many go unreported for various reasons


Marxism is useful in studying crime, as it draws our attention to class inequality, and the differences in law enforcement between the lower and upper classes. However, it has been widely criticised for focusing too much on corporate crime and not street crime. Post modernists also argue crime is a social construct in which it varies between cultures and time periods.


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