Topic 3 - Marxist Theories

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Criminogenic Capitalism:
Capitalism's nature causes crime
It is based on the exploitation of the w/c which is damaging - may give rise to crime
Poverty may mean crime is the only way to survive
Crime may be the only way to obtain consumer goods encouraged by capitalist advertising
Alienation causes frustration, resulting in non-utilitarian crimes such as violence
The need to win at all costs or go out of business along with desire for self enrichment encourages
capitalists to commit white collar and corporate crimes (e.g. tax evasion)
The state and law making:
Law making and enforcement serves the interests of the r/c - have power to prevent the introduction of
laws that would threaten their interests (SNIDER: capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate
activities of business or thereat their profitability)
Selective enforcement of the law - Reiman's book shows that the more likely a crime is committed by
higher class people, the less likely it is to be treated as a criminal offence - disproportionate
prosecutions of 'street crimes' vs. tax evasion
Ideological functions of crime and law:
Some laws are passed which benefit the w/c rather than r/c (e.g. workplace health and safety laws) -
However Pearce argues that such laws often benefit r/c too - keeps them fit to work
Such laws aren't rigorously enforced however - Carson - sample of 200 firms, all had broken health and
safety laws but only 1.5% of these cases ended in prosecution
Evaluation of Marxism:
Influenced recent approaches of the study of crimes by the powerful (e.g. Slapper)
Deterministic - not all poor people commit crime despite the pressures of poverty
Neo-Marxism - Taylor:
Voluntaristic view - crime is a meaningful action and conscious choice: crime often has a political
motive - criminals are deliberately striving to change society
Emphasise importance of liberty and diversity - shouldn't be labelled as deviant for being different
A fully social theory of deviance - Taylor et al:
a comprehensive understanding of crime and deviance that would change society for the better
6 aspects:
1. Wider origins of the deviant act: in the unequal distribution of wealth and power in capitalist society
2. The immediate origins of the deviant act: the context in which the individual commits the act
3. The act itself: and the mean for the actor
4. The immediate origins of social reaction: the reactions of those around the deviant to discovering the
deviance
5. Wider origins of social reaction: especially who has the power to define actions as deviant and to
label others and why some acts are treated more harshly than others
6. Effects of labelling: on the deviant's future actions
Evaluation of critical criminology:
Left Realists - Critical criminologists romanticises w/c criminals as 'Robin Hoods' who are fighting
capitalism by redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor
Hopkins-Burke - Critical Criminology is too general to explain crime and is too idealistic to be useful in
tackling crime

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