Topic 4 - Realist Theories

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Right realism:
Crime is a real and growing problem that destroys communities, undermines social cohesion and
threatens societies work ethic
Criticises theories for failing to offer any practical solutions to the problem
More concerned with realistic solutions to crime
Right Realism - the causes of crime:
Biological differences - the biological differences between individuals make some people more naturally
predisposed to commit crime than others
Socialisation and underclass - Murray - crime rates are increasing because of a growing underclass who
are defined by deviant behaviour and who fail to adequately socialise their children
Rational choice theory - Clarke - decision to commit crime is based on a rational calculation of the likely
consequences - if the perceived rewards of crime outweigh the perceived costs of crime, people are
more likely to offend
Right Realism - tackling crime:
Seek to devise practical measure to make crime less attractive
main focus is on control, containment and punishment of offenders
Wilson and Kellings - is it essential to maintain the orderly character of neighbourhoods to prevent
crime taking hold and deal with any signs of deterioration immediately
'zero tolerance' policy towards undesirable behaviour - police should focus on controlling the
streets to protect the law-abiding
Evaluation of Right Realism:
Ignores wider structural causes of crime (e.g. poverty)
Over-emphasises control of disorder, rather than tackling the underlying causes of neighbourhood
decline
Over-emphasises biological factors - Lilly et al - IQ differences account for less than 3% of differences in
offending
Left Realism:
See society as unequal
Reformist socialists - gradual social change is the way to achieve greater equality
Left Realism - the causes of crime:
Relative deprivation - how deprived someone feels in relation to others or compared with their own
expectations. Young: combination of individualism and relative deprivation encourages the pursuit of
self interest at the expense of others
Subculture - collective solution to the problem of relative deprivation - may try and close deprivation
gap
Marginalisation - no organisation to represent them and no clear goals - can't use political means to
improve position and express frustration through criminal means such as violence and rioting
Left Realism - tackling crime:
Policing and control - police and public relationship need improving: involve public in policy decisions.
Must take a multi-agency approach
Tackle structural causes - Young - must deal with inequality of opportunity and unfairness of rewards,
tackle discrimination, provide decent jobs for everyone and improve housing and community facilities
Evaluation of Left Realism:
Draws attention to the reality of street crime and its effects
Focus too much on the poor
Marxists: fail to explain white collar crime
Not everyone who commits crime suffers from relative deprivation

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