Outline and assess the view that the law operates to serve the ruling class

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Outline and assess the view that the law operates to serve the ruling
class. (50 marks)
As crime is subjective concept we must look at the explanations of crime and how it occurs,
this assumption clearly suggests that social class plays a large role in explanations of crime.
We must consider how social class affects us as a society and thus how it is reflected in the
laws set for our society to conform to. The idea of the law serving the ruling class is clearly a
Marxist perspective however other sociologists do appreciate this assumption particularly
Interactionists and Left Realists. In order to assess the view accurately other factors must
be considered for example how the law operates to serve different genders, ages and
ethnicities as well as social classes.
Firstly Marxists would argue that the ruling class are protected by the law and therefore are
less likely to be prosecuted for a crime. Snider found that the state is reluctant to pass laws
that regulate large capitalist concerns for example: laws on health and safety or monopolies,
as it can scare off investors and damage profitability for the state's economy. This suggests
that the law serves the ruling class because it protects them from being punished as laws
aren't in place to prevent business crimes and prosecute the criminals. Furthermore we can
suggest that this happens due to those who make the laws being part of the ruling class;
politicians are predominantly wealthy middle class individuals and therefore are unlikely to
regulate laws that could potentially damage their own wealth and so work together to
safeguard hegemony; this is the dominance of one social group. A contemporary example of
this is the Guinness Affair, this crime was committed by the chief executive of Guinness and
a number of financiers all with well paid jobs and high status, these individuals worked
together to manipulate the stock market in order to inflate Guinness shares causing a surge
of investment that was let down by the realistic value of the shares. The four criminals were
convicted but the case was dismissed as it was regarded as `against their human rights'. This
is a clear example of the law serving the ruling class as the individuals were let off
predominantly because of their status but also in order to not damage the status of
Guinness as a company in order it to remain as profitable company that would benefit the
state. As Marxists would regard the state as capitalist they would see the Guinness Affair as
a prime example of the law operating to serve the bourgeoisie.
However Feminists would disagree with the view of the Marxists and would suggest that
rather than the law operating to serve the ruling class it operates to serve men. Although
differing from the view of the statement feminists still suggest that the law operates to
serve one ruling group in society. Feminists have created a theory known as the Feminist
legal theory containing four models, one of which is called the Dominance Model. This model
suggests that the legal system is a mechanism for male dominance. The basic viewpoint of
feminism suggests that we live in a patriarchal society therefore this concept is likely to be
reinforced by the government as an agent of our society. As the government makes the
laws patriarchy will be preserved in these laws and therefore the law will operate to serve the
needs of men over women. An example of this is the sheer lack of women in parliament at

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MP's are predominantly male, with current statistics stating there are 144
female MP's within 650 MP's sitting in parliament. This suggests that with a higher number
of men in parliament which is the instrument of power for the law then surely they will aim
to serve the interests of men as they are the majority.
Secondly Left Realists would support that the law does operate to serve the ruling class as
they consider rises in crime to be due relative deprivation, marginalisation and subcultures.…read more

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We can suggest that the law uses the media as mechanism
to create an image that crime is always committed by the middle classes. A contemporary
example of this is the moral panic over `hoodies' the media sensationalised the issue that
working class youths wearing hoodies were criminals, committing crimes such as shoplifting
and vandalism. David Cameron himself even recognised these youths as criminals as he
ditched his policy of `hug a hoodie' and went for a tougher approach bringing in new harsher
policies.…read more


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