Class, power and crime


Explaining class difference in crime

Functionalism: sees crime as a product of inadequate socilaisation. Miller argues that WC has independant subculture, not mainstreme, which explains high crime rate.

Strain Theory: argues that the class structure denies WC opportunity to achieve by legitimate means, so they 'innovate' (use utalitarian crime)

Subculture Theories: Cohen sees WC youths as culturrally deprived and unable to achieve in education. Failure means frustration. So, they form delinquent suculture to gain status from peers. Cloward and Ohlin indentify 3 main subcultures: criminal, conflict and retreatist.

Labelling Theory: rejects the view that official statistics  are a valid representation of which class commits most crime. Focus on role of law enforcement who have the power to label the WC as criminals.

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Marxism, Class and Crime

Argues that law enforced mainly on WC and statistics are flawed. Critisise labelling theory for ignoring structure of capitalism that allows such wrong law enforcament is commmited. 

Crimonogenic capitalism: crime is inevitable in capitalism - its very nature causes crime. Poverty means that crime may be the only way some WC can survive, also only way of obtaining consumer goods advertised by capitalists. 

The state and law making: marxists see law making/enforcement as serving needs of capitalists e.g. laws to protect private property are basis of economy

Ideological functions of crime and law for capitalism:

  • Health and safety laws create a 'false conciousness' that capitalism cares for WC
  • State selectively enforces law so appears mainly WC. This divides class, enchorages workers to blame others rather than capitalism.
  • Seletive enforcement ditorts crime statistics, shift attention away from serious ruling class crime
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Neo- marxism: critical criminology

Taylor, Walton and Young agree w marxists that:

  • capiltalsim is based on exploitation and inequality
  •  state makes and enforces law in the interest of capitolism and criminalsises WC
  • Capitalism should be replaced by a classless society

- they critisise tradional marxism for its determinism; sees workers as driven to commit crime from neccesity. 

Takes a volunteristic (free will) view that crime is a concsious decision to redistruibute wealth 

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Crimes of the Powerful

White Collar Crime: Sutherland defines this as crime commited by a person of high status in the course of his or her occupation. This includes:

  • occupational crime: commited y employees for personal gain from company
  • coorporate crime (CC): commited for companies benefit 

The invisibility of CC:

  • media give little coverage
  • lack of political will to attack CC
  • De-labelling: offenses oftenen defined as civil, with fines rather than jail time 
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Explanations of Corporate Crime

Strain Theory: if a company cannot acieve its projected profits by legitimate means it will turn to crime

Differential Association: Sutherland sees crime as socially learnt. If a company's deviant subculture justifies commiting crime, employees will be socialised into criminality. 

Labelling theory: An act counts as a crime only if it has been labelled. Companies ofte have the power to avoid labelling (expenisve lawers).

Marxism: sees CC as resulting from nromal functioning of capotalism. Aim to inrease profits, so eventaully causes harm

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