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Right realism Socialisation and the underclass (cont)
If boys are raised by a lone mother then it is suggested that
they are more likely to turn to delinquent behaviour
Criticisms of right realism
It ignores the wider structural causes of crime such as
Right realists see crime as a real and growing problem that because they don't have an appropriate male role model. Overstates offenders' rationality and how far they make
destroys communities and undermines cohesion in society. They then gain status through crime rather than supporting cost-benefit calculations before committing a crime ­ may
Their views on crime correspond closely with those of the their family with a steady job. explain utilitarian crime but is not as good at explaining
neo-conservative governments during the 1970s and 80s ­ For Murray the underclass is not only a source of crime but non-utilitarian crime.
policy makers argues that criminologists had produced it threatens social cohesion because it undermines the The view that criminals are rational actors and choose to
theories of crime but done nothing to stop the rising crime values of hard work and personal responsibility. offend contradicts the view that biology has influences and
rate. that this determines criminality.
This led to shift in thinking, away from the causes of crime to Preoccupied with petty street crime and ignores corporate
Rational choice theory crime which can be more harmful and costly to the public.
a search for practical measures of control. They thought that This theory assumes that individuals have free will and the
the best way to control crime was to control and punish Advocating a zero tolerance policy gives police free rein to
power of reason. Theorists such as Clarke argue that the discriminate against minority ethnic groups etc and results
offenders rather than rehabilitating them and tackling the decision to commit crime is a choice based on rational
causes such as poverty. in the displacement of crime to other areas. Jones notes
calculation of likely consequences. If the perceived rewards that realist policies in the USA failed to prevent the rising
Right realists also criticise other theories because they fail to outweigh the costs, or the rewards seem to be greater than
offer solutions to the growing rate of crime ­ regard theories crime rate.
non-criminal behaviour then people are more likely to Finally, it over-emphasises the control of disorder rather
such as labelling and critical criminology as too sympathetic offend.
to the individual and too hostile towards law and order. They than tackling underlying causes of neighbourhood decline.
Right realists argue that the perceived costs of crime are
are more interested in providing what they see as realistic low at the moment and this is why the crime rate has
solutions. increased ­ there is the view that risk of being caught is low
and if they are then punishment will be lenient.
There is a similar idea in routine activity theory. Felson
Left realism
The causes of crime: biological differences Taking crime seriously
Wilson and Herrnstein argue that crime is caused by a argues that for a crime to occur there needs to be a
motivated offender, suitable target and absence of a The central idea behind left realism is that crime is a real
combination of biological and social factors. Biological problem and that it mainly affects disadvantaged groups
differences between people make some people more capable guardian. Offenders are assumed to act rationally ­
presence of a guardian is likely to stop them from who are the main victims. They say that other groups of
predisposed to commit crime. Personality traits such as sociologists don't take crime seriously.
aggressiveness and extroversion put some people at greater offending. Felson argues that informal guardians are more
effective than formal ones such as the police. Traditional Marxists have concentrated on the crimes of the
risk. Herrnstein and Murray argue that the main cause of powerful but left realists argue that this neglects the
crime is low intelligence ­ seen as biologically determined. working class crime.
Tackling crime Neo-Marxists romanticise working-class criminals and left
The causes of crime: socialisation and the underclass Right realists do not think that it is fruitful to try and deal realists point out that working class criminals mostly
While biology might increase chance of an individual with the causes of crime because these cannot easily be victimise other working class people and not the rich.
offending, effective socialisation decreases the risk because changed. Instead they seek to come up with practical Labelling theorists see working class criminals as victims of
it involves internalising the morals of society. For right measures to make crime less attractive. Their main focus is discriminatory labelling by agents of social control. Left
realists the nuclear family is the best place for this on control, containment and punishment of offenders realists argue that this neglects the real victims ­ working
socialisation to happen. rather than getting rid of the underlying cause or class people who suffer at the hands of criminals.
Murray argues that crime is increasing because of a growing rehabilitating them. Part of the left realists project of taking crime seriously is to
underclass who are defined by deviant behaviour and who Wilson and Kelling's article Broken Windows argues that it recognise that there has been an increase in crime rates.
fail to socialise their children properly. is necessary to maintain orderly character of a Young argues that this has led to an aetiological crisis (crisis
He argues that the welfare state's generous revolution has neighbourhood to prevent crime ­ any sign of deterioration in explanation) for theories of crime. For example, critical
allowed people to become dependent on the state ­ it has such as vandalism must be dealt with straight away. criminology and labelling theory tend to deny that increase
led to decline of marriage and the growth of lone parent They also advocate a zero tolerance policy towards is real instead arguing that it is just a result of an increase in
families because people can live off benefits. This also means undesirable behaviour such as prostitution ­ role of police crime or tendency to label the poor.
that men down have to take responsibility for supporting should be on controlling the streets so citizens are safe. Left realists argue that the increase is too great to be
their families. Also think that crime prevention policies should reduce the explained in this way and that more people are reporting
Lone mothers are ineffective agents of socialisation, rewards and increase cost of crime for the offender ­ for crime because more people are becoming victims of crime ­
especially for boys because they then lack paternal example, greater use of prison sentences to maximise they cite the results of the British Crime Survey to back up
influences and have a lack of male role model to look up to. effect. their view.…read more

Slide 2

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Left realism (cont) Subcultures (cont)
Within the Afro-Caribbean community in Bristol, Pryce
identified a number of subcultures such as hustlers,
Late modernity, exclusion and crime (cont)
A further trend is for relative deprivation to become
generalised throughout society rather than being confined
Taking crime seriously (cont) Rastafarians, saints and working-class respectables. to those at the bottom. There is resentment at the rewards
Taking crime seriously also involves recognising who is most For left realists criminal subcultures subscribe to the values that some people get (from footballers to bankers) and
affected by crime. Local victim surveys show that the scale of and goals of mainstream society. For example, Young notes there is also downwards relative deprivation where the
the problem is bigger than shown by official statistics. They that there are ghettos in the USA where there is full middle class resent the working class as an idle and
also show that disadvantaged groups have a greater risk of emersion in the American Dream. However, blocked irresponsible class.
becoming victims. opportunities to achieve these goals legitimately are
Therefore, disadvantaged groups have a greater fear of blocked. The result of the trend towards exclusion is that the amount
crime and it has a greater effect on their lives. For example, and types of crime are changing ­ crime is more widespread
a fear of attack might prevent women from going out at and found increasingly throughout the social hierarchy.
night. At the same time, these groups are less likely to report Reactions to crime by the public and state are also changing
Marginalised groups lack clear goals and organisations to
crimes against them. ­ late modernity has brought about more diversity and
represent their interests. Groups such as workers have clear
there is less consensus on what is right or wrong.
goals and organisations (trade unions) to put pressure on
Relative deprivation politicians which means that they have no need to resort to
As well as the rising crime rates, this makes the public more
Lea and Young state that crime has its roots in deprivation violence.
intolerant and leads to demands for harsher formal controls
but this in itself is not directly responsible for crime. For Unemployed youth, on the other hand, are marginalised ­
by the state and increased criminalisation. This makes late
example, poverty was very high in the 1930s but crime rates they have no organisation to represent them and no goals,
modern society a high crime one with a low tolerance.
were low. However, since the 1950s living standards have just resentment and frustration. As they are powerless they
risen, but so has the crime rate. express frustration through criminal means such as
Left realists use the idea of relative deprivation (how violence.
Policing and control
deprived someone feels in relation to others/in comparison Kinsley, Lea and Young argue that police clear-up rates are
with what they expect). This can lead to crime when people too low to act as a deterrent to crime and that police spend
Late modernity, exclusion and crime
think that others have more than them so they may resort to too little time investigating crime.
Young argues that we are living in a stage of late modernity
crime to get what they think they are entitled to.
where instability and exclusion make the problem of crime
Although today people are better off they are now more The police depend on the public to provide them with
worse. He contrasts today's society with the period before
aware of relative deprivation because of the media etc ­ this information about crime (90% of crime is made known to
(1950s and 60s) and said they represented a Golden Age of
raises people's expectations for material possession. them by the public). However, the police are losing public
capitalist society. This was a time of social inclusion and
Relative deprivation, however, doesn't always have to lead support and as such the flow of information dries up and
stability with full employment, low divorce rates and low
to crime. Individualism is a concern with the self and your the police have to rely on `military policing' where they
crime rates as well as there being general consensus about
own rights, rather than those of a group. This can cause conduct random stops and searches in certain areas. This
right and wrong.
crime because it encourages pursuit of self-interest at the alienates certain communities where they see the police as
Since the 1970s, instability, security and exclusion have
expense of others. victimising young people and then the locals don't trust the
increased. The loss of unskilled jobs has increased
For left realists, increasing individualism is causing police, don't provide them with information and they result
unemployment for young people and ethnic minorities.
disintegration of families and communities because it to military policing and so on.
Changes such as these have destabilised family and
undermines values of mutual support and selflessness and
community life which contributes to rising divorce rates,
this weakens informal controls that are used over such Left realists argue that policing must therefore be made
marginalisation and exclusion of people at the bottom.
people and can create a spiral of anti-social behaviour. more accountable to local communities and as such they
Greater inequality between the rich and poor and spread of
free market values has encouraged individualism and need to deal with local concerns. The police need to
increased the sense of relative deprivation. There is also a improve their relationship with local communities by
Subcultures spending more time investigating crime and changing their
growing contrast between cultural inclusion and economic
For left realists a subculture is a groups collective solution to priorities.
exclusion. The media promotes cultural inclusions (even the
the problem of relative deprivation.
poor have access to its materialistic message) but despite
Different groups may produce different subcultures. Some They also argue that crime control can't solely be left to the
the ideology of meritocracy, the poor are systematically
may turn to crime that is close to the deprivation gap police ­ a multi-agency approach is needed. This involves
excluded from opportunities.
whereas others may find a religion that offers the a sense of agencies such as local councils, social services, schools,
This is similar to the notion of anomie ­ society creates
comfort ­ what Weber calls `theodicy of the disprivileged'. housing departments and leisure services as well as
crime by setting goals but denying people opportunity to
These religious subcultures may encourage respect and voluntary organisations such as victim support.
achieve them by legitimate means.
conformity.…read more

Slide 3

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Left realism (cont) Comparing left and right realism
Both left and right realists see crime as a real problem and
fear of crime as a rational response. On the other hand they
Tackling the structural causes come from different ends of the political spectrum ­ right
Left realists do not see improved policing as the main realists are neo-conservative whilst left realists are
solution. Instead, because they see the causes of crime in reformist socialists. This is reflected in the way that they
the unequal structure of society, they say we should make explain crime ­ right realists blame the individual lack of
major structural changes if we want to reduce levels of self-control whereas left realists blame structural
crime. inequalities and relative deprivation.
Young argues that we need to deal with inequality of Political differences are also reflected in their aims ­ the
opportunity and the unfairness of rewards, provide decent right prioritise social order, achieved through a tough
jobs for people and improve housing. Also need to become stance against offenders and the left prioritise justice,
more tolerant of diversity and stop stereotyping whole achieved through democratic policing and reforms to create
groups of people. more equality.
Left realism and government policy
Left realists have had more influence on government policy
than most theorists of crime ­ their views have strong
similarities with the New Labour government's stance on
being tough on crime.
The New Labour's firmer approach to the policing of hate
crimes, sexual assault and domestic violence, along with the
introduction of ASBOs echoes left realist concerns to protect
vulnerable groups from crime and low level disorder. The
New Deal for unemployed youth and their anti-truanting
policies attempt to reduce exclusion of those people who
are at greatest risk.
Young does regard most of these policies as nostalgic and
doomed attempts to recreate the conditions of the Golden
Age ­ the New Deal doesn't lead to secure, permanent jobs ,
while ASBOs will not recreate good neighbourliness and
sense of community.
Evaluation of left realism
It has succeeded in drawing attention to the reality of street
crime and its effects, especially on victims from deprived
groups. However, it is also criticised:
Interactionists argue that because they rely on quantitative
data they cannot explain offenders motives ­ need
qualitative data to reveal meanings.
Use of subcultural theory means left realists assume that
value consensus exists and that crime only occurs when this
breaks down.
Relative deprivation cannot fully explain crime because not
everyone who experiences crime goes on to commit it ­
theory over-predicts the amount of crime.
Focus on high-crime, inner-city areas gives an
unrepresentative view and makes crime appear more of a
problem than it really is.…read more


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