right realism

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Right Realism
`New approaches to crime and deviance are partly due to the reaction and short
comings of previous approaches, and partly a reflection of changing academic
and political priorities and partly as a response to changing fashions.
In the 1980's and 1990's there was an increased concern about law and order in
Britain and in the USA. This was accompanied by a growing awareness of high
levels of unreported victimisation, especially amongst the most venerable
sections of the population. These concerns were reflected in two new
approaches to the study of crime, both right realism and left realism see crime
as a major problem in society especially for its victims, and both claim to take
crime seriously and to put it forward proposals to combat it. "Realist"
approaches can be seen as a reaction to both labelling theory and radical
criminology, neither of these perspectives appeared to show much concern for
the victims of crime. Indeed labelling theory implied that in many cases the
"victim" was the person who was labelled as a criminal.
The right realist approach
Conservative theorists were the 1st to adopt a realist approach. James Q Wilson
1975 an American new right theorist and policy adviser to President Reagan,
was one of the earliest authors to question the predominate liberal and left
analyses of law and order which prevailed in sociology. What then are the central
features of the right realist analysis of crime?
Poverty, unemployment and crime
1st and foremost, right realists question the view that economic factors such as
poverty or unemployment are responsible for the rising crime rate. Wilson
makes critique of this view by arguing that affluence and prosperity go hand in
hand with raising crime.
Explaining the rise in crime
According to James Q Wilson and Richard Hernstein 1985 " crime is an
activity disproportionally committed by young men living in larger cities". They
explain this in term so both biological and social factors. In their words" it is likely
that the effect of male youthfulness on the tendency to commit crime has both
constitutional (biological) and social origins: that have is, it has something to do
with the biological status of a young male and how that young man will be treated
by society" .Wilson and Richard Hernstein 1985 picture young men as
"temporally aggressive ".this aggression they say is biologically based and
makes them prone to crime.
And increase in the proportion of young men in the population would therefore
cause an increase in crime rate they say.in the USA and Britain in the 1970's the
proportion of young men in the population increased, however since the 1980's

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Culture and socialisation
Wilson and Richard Hernstein 1985 argue that the way young men are
socialised into the family, school and wider community has had an important
effect on their behaviour. Consistent discipline inside and outside the home
encourages individuals to learn to follow society's norms and values and develop
selfcontrol.…read more

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In Murrays words "when I use term underclass I am indeed focusing on a certain
type of poor person defined as not by his condition e.g. long term unemployment,
but by deplorable behaviour in response to that condition e.g. unwilling to take
jobs available.…read more

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Right realists are concerned with practical measures to reduce crime and
maintain social order. Some of those measures are based on rational choice
Rational choice theory
Wilson and Herrnstein 1985 argue that there is an important element of choice
when deciding whether or not to commit crime. They picture the individual as
weighing up the costs and benefits of criminal activity and coming to a rational
decision.…read more

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Right relists see the rising crime rate as a real indicator of a real social problem
­ a problem which must be tackled with practical methods. However at least part
of the rise in crime statistics may result from changes in reporting and recording
crime. (Walklate 2003)
Economic change and crime
Right realists make an important point when they argue that economic growth
and rising living standards have gone hand in hand with rising crime rates since
the 1960's.…read more


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