A2 Sociology: Right and Left Realism

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Latifah Davis-Cole
Right and Left Realism
Right Realists
See crime, especially street crime as a real and growing problem that destroys
Undermines social cohesion and threatens society's work ethic.
They think that crime is the product of three factors: biological differences,
inadequate socialisation and the underclass
Biological Differences
Wilson and Hernstein ­ crime is caused by a combination of biological and social
Biological differences make some people more likely to commit crime than others.
For example, personality traits such as aggressiveness or risk taking. They're at a
greater risk of offending
Hernsteing and Murray argue that the main cause of crime is low intelligence
Socialisation and the underclass
Effective socialisation decreases the risk ­ involves learning self-control and
internalising moral values of right and wrong
Murray ­ crime rate is increasing becos of a growing underclass. They fail to socialise
their child properly
Lone mothers are ineffective socialisation agents especially for boys. Absent fathers
mean that boys lack paternal discipline and a male role model
As a result turn to other male role models on the street and fain status through
crime rather than supporting their families w/a steady job
Rational Choice Theory
The idea that individuals have free will and power of reason
Clarke: The decision to commit a crime is a choice based on rational
calculation of the likely consequences
Right realist argue that the perceived cost of crime are low and this is why the crime
rate has increased
Felson: Argues that for a crime to occur there must be a motivated offender,
a suitable target. Absence of a `capable guardian' (such as policeman or
neighbour) ­ the presence of a guardian is likely to deter them from offending
Felson argues that an informal guardian is more effective ­ (why I think: this may be
because the individual may be afraid of being excluded from the community etc)

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Latifah Davis-Cole
Tackling Crime
Right realists do not believe in trying to deal with the underlying causes of crime
such as biological or socialisation
Instead prefer practical measures
Wilson and Kellings: Article on Broken Windows argue that is essential to
maintain the orderly character of neighbourhoods to prevent crime taking hold
Advocate the zero tolerance policy towards undesirable behaviour
Ignored wider structural causes such as poverty
Doesn't explain much violent crime, explains more utilitarian crime
Ignores corporate crimes such as white collar crime
Left…read more

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Latifah Davis-Cole
The Causes of Crime
Relative Deprivation
For Lea and Young, crime has its root in deprivation.
Deprivation in itself is not directly responsible for crime ­ for example, in the 1930s
poverty was high but crime rates were low
Runciman concept to explain crime. Refers to how deprived someone feels in
relation to others.…read more

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Latifah Davis-Cole
Since the 1970s, instability and insecurity has increased
De-industrialisation and the loss of unskilled manual jobs have increased
unemployment and poverty (esp.…read more

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Latifah Davis-Cole
o Eg.…read more


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