Outline and Assess the View that the Law Operates to Serve the Ruling Class (50 marks)

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Outline and Assess the View that the Law Operates to Serve the
Ruling Class (50 marks)
Pease (1994) said, `Crime comprises those actions which are deemed so damaging to
the interest of the community that the state determines that it must take a direct role
in identifying and acting against the criminal.' Downes and Rock (1998) said `Deviance
may be considered as banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract
punishment or disproval.' In short, `Deviance' is a social construct that can change
across time and place and `Crime' is an action that breaks the law.
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

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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'.…read more

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society has discarded them they no longer need to be represented in the law and so
the law fails to serve their needs as it is seen as unnecessary. An example of the
effects of this in society is the London Riots, the rioters were mainly working class
individuals and could be said to represent a feeling of deprivation from the working
classes, as theft became a central aspect of the riots.…read more

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`hug a hoodie' and went for a tougher approach bringing in new harsher policies. As
the Prime Minister was making these decisions it will have had an adverse affect on
society and stereotyping all working class youths as criminals. By scapegoating,
shifting the blame onto one group, the working class the law-influenced media is
serving the ruling class by protecting them from being seen as criminals.…read more


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