traditional marxist apporaches to crime and deviance

traditional marxist approach

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Traditional Marxist approaches
From a Marxist approach crime and deviance in western society can only be understood in
terms of capitalism and the class struggle. Coercion and conflict are seen as the key features
of capitalist society in contrast to functionalism emphasis on consensus and integration,
Marxism sees the structures and institutions of society determining how people behave.
Causes of crime
From a Marxist viewpoint crime is systematically generated by the structure of a capitalist
society. Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of
production and therefore the maximizing profit. And capitalism emphasises indivulaism not
collective well being. Capitalism also places an importance on winning as it a competitive
system which encourages aggression. It is also and exploitive system in which some gain at
the expense of others.
Given these priorities it is a short step to seeing the end as justifying the means (to be so
obsessed with personal gain and coming out on top) breaking the law seems to be minor
barrier to sucuess. Pressures to break the law will affect people across the social spectrum
from wealthy business people to poverty stricken unemployed. In this respect fiddling
expenses and fiddling the dole have the same causes.
From a Marxist perspective capitalism encourages greed and self interest, it generates
frustration and aggression. Breaking the law can be seen as a rational step in order to
satisfies this desire and express these feelings. Crimes with no apparent finical motive can be
seen as an expression of frustration, aggression and hostility which the system produces.
The law
Laws in capitalist society in a capitalist society are seen to reflect the interest of the
dominant capitalist class. Thus many laws protecting private property which have appear in
the statute books over the last 200 years and these reflect the expansion and growth of
industry and expansion the trade and commerce. In this sense private property the essence
of capitalism is protected.
Laws which appear to protect the interest of workers can be seen as concessions to the
working class to maintain if not its loyalty then their acceptance of the system. E.g. health
and safety laws.
Law Enforcement
"There is one law for the rich and another for the poor" this summarises the Marxist view on
law enforcement in capitalist society.

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The law is enforced selectively there is a systematic bias in favour of those at the top. The
crimes of the powerful such as corporate crime e.g. failure to pay business taxes if
discovered is rarely prosecuted, by comparison those at the bottom of the class system if
caught are very often prosecuted. However in momentary means the vast sums involved in
criminal activities those at the bottom of the class system are a drop in to ocean compared
to those at the top.…read more


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