Neo-Marxism and Crime
Neo-Marxism and Crime
Taylor, Walton and Young agree with Traditional Marxists that Capitalism is based on exploitation and inequality. This is the key to understanding crime. The state makes and enforces laws that serve the ruling class. Capitalism should be replaced by a classless society in order to greatly reduce crime.
But Taylor criticises traditional Marxists for being too deterministic. He also rejects theories that claim crime is causes by external factors such as anomie.
However, Taylor takes a more voluntaristic approach. This is the view that each individual has free will. Crime is a conscious choice, often with a political motive. Criminals are struggling to change society and they are expressing their frustration at Capitalist society by breaking the law.
Fully Social Theory of Deviance - This theory would help to change society for the better. It would have 2 main sources:
- Traditional Marxist ideas about the unequal distribution of wealth, and who has the power to enforce laws.
- Labelling Theory's ideas about the meaning of deviance for the individual and societal reactions to it.
Evaluation of Neo-Marxism
- Feminists criticise Marxists for being 'gender blind' as it focuses on male criminality and sometimes at the expense of women. No explanations are provided for racial attacks, **** and domestic violence.
- Left Realists criticise Neo-Marxists for romanticising WC criminals as Robin Hoods fighting Capitalism by redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. However, in reality, criminals simply prey on the poor.
- Roger Burke argues that critical criminology is too general to explain crime and too idealistic to be useful in tackling crime.
An over-reaction by society to a perceived problem, usually driven by the media, where the reaction enlarges the problem out of all proportion to its real seriousness.
Realists differ from labelling theory and critical criminology, which see crime as socially constructed rather than a real fact.
Realists see crime as a real problem, especially for its victims, and they propose policies to reduce crime.
Realist theories divide along political lines:
- Right Realistsshare a New Right, conservative outlook and support a zero tolerance stance on crime.
- Left Realistsare reformist sociologists and favour policies to promote equality.
Right Realism and Crime
Right Realism sees crime, especially street crime, as a growing problem.
Right realists believe that other theories have failed to solve the problem of crime. They regard other theories such as labelling theory and critical criminology as too sympathetic towards the criminal.
They are mainly concerned with practical solutions to reduce crime. The best way is through control and punishment, rather than rehabilitating offenders or tackling causes such a poverty.
Causes of crime:
- Biological differences- According toWilson and Herrnstein, crime is caused by biological differences between individuals making some people more likely to commit crime due to personal traits like aggressiveness.
- The underclass- They see the nuclear family as the best agency of socialisation. It decreases the risk of offending by teaching self-control. However,Murrayargues that the nuclear family is being undermined by the welfare state which is creating welfare dependancy.
- Rational Choice Theory-Clarkeassumes that individuals are rational beings with free will. Choosing to commit a crime is based on whether the rewards outweigh the costs and
Right Realist Solutions to Crime
Right Realists think it it pointless to tackle biological and social differences seeing as these are hard to change. Instead, they tackle the control and punishment of offenders rather than eliminating the causes of offending.
- Wilson and Kelling - We must keep out neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime. Signs of deterioration such as vandalism must be dealt with immediately.
- There should be a zero tolerance policy and police should control the streets to make people feel safe.
- Crime prevention strategies should reduce the rewards of crime.
- It ignores structural causes of crime like poverty.
- If the police control certain neighbourhoods, it may result in the displacement of crimeto other areas instead of reducing crime.
- It is only concerned about street crime. It ignores corporate crime.
- It over-emphasises control of disorderly neighbourhoods.
Left Realism and Crime
Left Realism and Crime
Left Realists are socialists. Like Marxists, they are opposed to the inequality of Capitalist society. However, unlike Marxists they are reformists not revolutionary. They believe gradual reforms are the only realistic way to achieve equality.
- The main victims are disadvantaged groups - WC and ethnic minories.
- There has been a real increase in crime.
Lea and Young identify 3 causes of crime:
- Relative Deprivation- When individuals feel others unfairly have more, they may resort to crime to obtain what they feel entitled to. This is because the poor have access to the media's materialistic message.
- Subculture- This is a group's solution to relative deprivation.
- Marginalisation- Unemployed youths are marginalised. They have no organisations representing them and no clear cut goals.
Solutions to Left Realism
Kinsey, Lea and Young argue that the police are losing public support. They therefore need to become more accountable to local communities by involving them in deciding policing policies and priorities. Crime control must involve a multi-agency approach - including schools, social services, housing departments.
The main solution to crime is to remove social inequality. They call for major structural changes to tackle discrimination and unfairness of rewards. They would like to provide decent job and housing for all.
- Marxists argue that it fails to recognise crimes of the powerful.
- Over-predicts the amount of WC crime. Too deterministic.
- Relies on quantitative victim surveys for data, whilst understanding offenders' motives requires qualitative data.
Young argues that in late modern society, since the 1970s, the problem of WC crime has become worse. This is due to...
- Harsher welfare policies, increased unemployment, job insecurity and poverty.
- Destabilisation of family and community life, weakening informal social controls.
Young notes other changes in late modern society...
- Crime is now found throughout society, not just at the bottom.
- There is also 'relative deprivation downwards' - hate towards asylum seekers and those sponging off benefits
- There is less consensus over what is classes as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Families and communities are disintegrating.
- The public are less tolerant and demand harsher controls by the state.
Gender and Ethinicity
Gender and Ethinicity
Do women commit less crime?
Four out of five convicted offenders are male.
Official statistics underestimate the amount of female offending.
- Females are less likely to be reported.
- When women are reported, they are less likely to be prosecuted.
Feminists argue that the CJS is not biased in favour of women.
Carlen found that Scottish courts were more likely to jail women whose children were in care than women who were seen as good mothers.
Walklate argues that during **** cases, it is the female victim who is on trial trying to have her evidence accepted, not the male suspect. Women have to establish their respectability if their evidence is to be believed.
Dobash and Dobash found that police officers were very unlikely to make an arrest in cases of domestic violence.
This is the idea that women are less likely to be prosecuted. It argues that the CJS is more lenient towards women.
Pollak - men have a protective attitude towards women so they are unwilling to arrest, charge or convict them. Also, their crimes are less likely to appear in the official statistics which is why female crime is under-represented.
Evidence for the chivalry thesis:
- Women are more likely to be cautioned than prosecuted.
- Hood - studied 3000 defendantsand found that women were a third less likely to be jailed.
Evidence against the chivalry thesis:
- Box - reviewed self-report studies and concluded that the official statistics were fairly accurate.
- Farrington and Morris - They studied a magistrates' court and found that women were not sentenced more leniently when the severity of their crime was taken int account.
Functionalist sex role theory
Functionalist Sex Role Theory
Parsons - focuses on gender socialisation and role models in the nuclear family to explain gender differences in crime.
- Women perform the expressive role at home, expressing gentleness and emotion.
- Boys distance themselves by engaging in 'compensatory compulsory masculinity' which includes risk taking and aggression.
- Men take on an instrumental role which is largely outside the home. This makes socialisation harder for boys.
- Cohen - the absence of an adult role model in the home means that boys are more likely to turn to all-male street gangs as a source of masculine identity. Here, they earn their status by acts of delinquency.
However, this theory is criticised...
- Feminists explain gender differences in offending in terms of patriarchy.
- Walklate critised Parsons for assuming that because women are biologically capable of bearing children that they are best suited to the expressive role. Parsons is providing explanations based on biological assumptions.
Heidensohn: patriarchal control
Women commit fewer crimes because patriarchal society imposes greater control over women, reducing their opportunity to offend. This is because patriarchal control operates at home, in public and at work.
- Domestic work confines them to the house for long periods of time
- Men provide the threat of domestic violence and financial power.
- Daughters have less freedom. e.g. restrictions on staying out late.
- Media reporting of rapes frightens women into staying at home.
Carlen: class and gender deals.
She conducted unstructured interviews with 39 WC female offenders, and argues that most convicted serious female criminals are WC. She uses Hirschi's control theory...
- Humans are controlled by being offered rewards in return for conforming to norms. Carlen identifies the class deal (working to earn a decent standard of living) and the gender deal (conforming to domestic work and being rewarded with a family life).
- WC women are less likely to gain either, so they result to crime.
Adler argues that as women become liberated from patriarchy, their offending will become similar to men's.
Women's liberation is leading to a new type of female criminal and a rise in the female crime rate.
- Patriarchal controls and discrimination have lessened, and opportunities have become more equal.
- There are women in serious positions at work and this gives then the opportunity to commit serious white-collar crime. Women no longer just commit traditional female crimes such as prostitution and shoplifting.
Evidence is the recent rise in female crime according to the official statistics.
Criticism = female crime started rising before the liberation of women began.
Also, Box argues that female crime has increased due to unemployment and inadequate benefits.
Messerschmidt - Male Crime
Messerschmidt - Male Crime
Most offenders are men.
The concept of masculinity explains this.
Messerschmidt argues that masculinity is an accomplishment, something that men have to constantly construct and present to others.
Some men have more resources to draw upon:
- Hegemonic masculinity is the dominant form of masculinity and the one that most men wish to accomplish. This is defined through paid work, heterosexuality and the ability to subordinate woman.
- Subordinated masculinities are a lower form of masculinity. Many lower-class and ethnic minority men lack the resources to accomplish hegemonic masculinity so they turn to crime.
However, Messerschmidt notes that some middle-class men also use crime to achieve hegemonic masculinity in the first place, but in their case it is white-collar crime or corporate crime.
Evaluation of Messerschmidt
- Is masculinity actually a measure of crime, or is it simply a description of male offenders?
- There is no explanation put forward for why not ALL men use crime to accomplish masculinity.
- The concept of masculinity is over-worked.
Left Realists, Ethnicity and Crime
Left Realists, Ethnicity and Crime
Lea and Young argue that ethnic differences in crime statistics reflect real differences in the levels of offending.
- They see crime as a product of relative deprivation, subculture and marginalisation. Racism has led to the marginalisation and economic exclusion of ethnic minorities.
- Media emphasis on consumerism also promotes relative deprivation by setting materialistic goals that many members of minority groups cannot reach by legitimate means due to discrimination.
- Even if police act in racist ways, it is unlikely to account for the ethnic differences in statistics. e.g. Blacks have a much higher crime rate than Asians, despite both groups being an ethnic minority. Also, it must be remembered that 90% of crime is reported by the public and not actually found by the police.
Lea and Young conclude that...
- Statistics represent real differences in offending.
Neo Marxims, Ethnicity and Crime
Neo-Marxism, Ethnicity and Crime
Gilroy and Hall et al criticise the view that the statistics reflect reality. Rather, they are an outcome of a social construction process that stereotypes minorities as more criminal than whites.
The Myth of black criminality.
Gilroy argues that in reality, these groups are no more criminal than any other ethnic group, but because the CJS act on these racist stereotypes, minorities are criminalised and appear greater in numbers in official crime statistics.
Gilroy agrees with critical criminology. Much working-class crime is an act of resistance towards Capitalism.
Hall et al - During the 1970s there was a moral panic over mugging being a 'black' crime. However, this occurred at the same time as the crisis of capitalism. It served as a scapegoatto distract attention from the true cause of society's problems such as unemployment. It also weakened the opposition to capitalism over racial grounds.
Media Representations of crime
Media Representations of Crime
Williams and Dickinson found that British newspapers devoted 30% of their news space to crime, of which 60% is violent crime. The media therefore play a powerful role in amplifying and over representing crime.
The media give a distorted image of crime compared to official statistics
- It over-represents violent and sexual crimes.
- It portrays criminals and victims as older and more middle-class. Felson calls this 'age fallacy'.
- They exaggerate police success in clearing up cases.
- They ask exaggerate the risk of victimisation.
The news is a social construction. Some stories are selected, others rejected.
Cohen and Young: the news is not discovered, but manufactured.
If a crime can be told in terms of 'news values' (immediacy, dramatisation, higher-status persons, risk, violence) then it has a better chance of making the news.
Media as a Cause of Crime
Media as a Cause of Crime
The media have had a negative effect on the attitudes and behaviour of those that are most easily influenced, such as the young, lower classes and the uneducated.
Ways in which the media might cause crime:
- Providing deviant role models, resulting in 'copycat' behaviour.
- Through violent imagery and repeated viewing of violence.
- By transmitting knowledge of criminal techniques, or glamourising crime.
- Advertising unaffordable goods to influence stealing.
Media exaggerations may cause an unrealistic fear of crime. Schlesinger and Tumber found that tabloid readers and heavy TV users were afraid of going out at night.
Lea and Young argue that the media increased relative deprivation amount marginalised groups. Even the poorest people have media access with materialistic images. This stimulates a sense of social exclusion, leading to crime.
Media, Moral Panics, & Perspectives.
Functionalists: They see moral panics as a way of responding to the sense of anomie created by change. The media raise the collective consciousness and reassert social controls when central values are threatened.
Neo-Marxism: Moral panics distract from the real crisis of Capitalism.
Thomas and Loader: define cybercrime as computer-mediated activities that are illegal or considered illicit, and are conducted through global electronic networks.
Jewkes: The internet creates opportunities to commit crimes such as fraud and software piracy.
Wall identifies 4 types of cybercrime: hacking, identity theft, *********** and violence.
Policing cybercrime is difficult due to the sheer scale of the internet and due to its globalised nature.
ICT provides the state and the police with greater opportunities for surveillance and control. This is through CCTV cameras, electronic databases and digital fingerprinting.
White Collar Crime
Sutherland defines this as...
Crimes committed by persons of high social status and respectability in the course of their occupations. It includes bribery, corruption, misconduct by professionals, and the breaking of trade of safety regulations.
David Held et al defines this as...
The increasing interconnectedness of societies in all aspects of life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual.
Globalisation has many causes:
- The spread of new ICT
- The influence of the global mass media
- Cheap air travel
- Deregulation of financial markets.
Globalisation and Crime
Held et al argues that there has been a globalisation of crime. Crime has spread across national borders, and there has been a spread in transnational organised crime.
Castells argues that there is a global criminal economy worth trillions. This is in the form of: Body trafficking, sex tourism, drugs trafficking, cybercrime, green crime and terrorism. These crimes usually depend on supply and demand relationships.
Stan Cohen: talks about global risk consciousness. The media heighten our awareness of risk, which raises our levels of insecurity. Social control becomes intensified as a result. e.g. border control regulations have become more strict.
From a Marxist perspective, Taylor argues that globalisation has led to global capitalism and greater inequality. For example, TNCs can switch their manufacturing to low-wage countries to gain higher profits.
Amongst the poor, greater insecurity has encouraged crime. e.g. 20% of people living in Columbia are dependant upon the cocaine trade for their living.
Green crime refers to crime and harm done towards the environment.
Beck argues that most threats to hum a well-being and the eco-system are now inflicted by humans rather than natural disasters.
The increase in productivity has led to new 'manufactured risks' which have serious consequences for humanity. e.g. Climate change. These risks are on a global scale, so Beck refers to them as 'global risk society'.
South identifies 2 types of green crime:
- Primary green crimes result directly from the destruction of the earth's resources. e.g. air pollution, deforestation, species decline, and water pollution.
- Secondary green crime involves the flouting of rules aimed at preventing environmental disasters. e.g. Illegal waste dumping at a global scale occurs because dumping toxic waste is expensive. Businesses ship their waste into third world countries and in some cases it isn't classes as illegal because these countries do not have the necessary legislation outlawing it.
"Durkheim - Laws give you boundaries" - however, there aren't many laws for green crime. Also, legal definitions cannot provide a consistent global standard of environmental harm. Green criminology is also transgressive. White argues that we should therefore label harmful acts as criminal.
Traditional Criminology - Only studies the patterns and causes of law-breaking. EG. If pollution is legal, then traditional criminology is not concerned with it.
Green Criminology - This is more radical. It starts from the notion of harm rather than criminal law.
There are 2 views of harm:
- Anthropocentric view - TNCs argue that humans have the right to dominate nature, putting economic growth before the environment.
- Ecocentric view - This sees humans and the environment as interdependent.
e.g. Toxic waste is expensive to dispose legally, so Western businesses ship waste to third world countries where costs and safety standards are lower.
State Crime and The Scale of state Crime
Green and Ward define state crime as...
illegal or deviant activities perpetrated by or with the complicity of state agencies. This includes genocides, war crimes, torture, imprisonment without trial and assassination.
McLaughlin identifies 4 categories of state crime:
- Crimes by security and police forces
The scale of state crime
The state's power allows it to commit extremely large-scale crimes with widespread victimisation. e.g. Cambodia 1795-1978.
The state's power also means that it conceals its crimes and evades punishment more easily. Because the state defines what is criminal, it also has the power to avoid defining it own harmful acts as deviant.
National sovereignty makes it difficult for external authorities such as the UN to intervene.
State crime can be examined through human rights:
- There is no agreed list of human rights, but they include natural rights. A right is an entitlement that acts as a protection against the state.
- Herman and Schwendinger argue that we should define crimes in terms of violations of human rights, rather than the breaking of legal rules.
Stan Cohen argues that the state conceal and legitimate human rights crimes.
Dictatorships deny abuse and follow a spiral of denial.
Situational Crime Prevention
Situational Crime Prevention
These approaches rely on reducing opportunities for crime. They target specific crimes by managing the environment. They increase the risks and reduce the rewards for committing crimes. e.g. CCTV.
'Targer hardening' - includes locking doors, security guards, reshaping the environment.
This is a rational choice theory: criminals act rationally and weigh up options.
However, it may simply displace crime instead of reducing it.
It also does not explain white-collar, corporate and state crime.
Environmental Crime Prevention
Environmental Crime Prevention
Wilson and Kellig argue that 'broken windows' that aren't dealt with send out a message that no one cares, prompting a spiral of decline.
An absence of formal social control such as the police, and informal social control such as the community, make members of society feel intimidated and powerless.
The solution: Crack down on disorder through an environmental improvement strategyand a zero tolerance policing strategy.
Social/Community Crime Prevention
Social/Community Crime Prevention
These strategies emphasise dealing with social conditions rather than policing.
These are long-term solutions attempting to target the root causes of offending rather than short-term removal of opportunities.
Poverty is a cause of crime, so social policies like full-time employment policies are likely to reduce future crime.
There are different justifications for punishments...
- Deterrance - Punishment may prevent furute crime from fear of further punishment.
- Rehabilitation - Reforming & re-educating offenders so they no longer offend.
- Incapacitation - Removing the offender's capacity to re-offend, e.g. by execution, imprisonment.
- Retribution - The idea that society is entitled to take revenge for the offender having breached its moral code.
Durkheim: the function of punishment is to uphold social solidarity.
- Retributive Justice - Traditional society has a strong collective conscience, therefore punishment is severe.
- Restitutive Justice - In modern society, there is an extensive interdependence between individuals. Crime damages this, and the function of justice should be to repair this damage through compensation.
Marxists argue that punishment is part of the 'repressive state apparatus' that defends ruling-class property against the lower classes. Punishment therefore reflects the economic base of society.
Under capitalism, imprisonment becomes the dominant punishment because time is money, and offenders pay by doing time.
Focault: The birth of the prison
Focault analysed punishment in its social context. In pre-modern society, punishments were a visible spectacle, e.g. public execution. From the 19th century, disciplinary power became dominant.
Focault uses the panopticon to illustrate this. It is a prison design where prisoners' cells are visible to the guards but the guards are not visible to the prisoners. Surveillance soon turns into self-surveillance because the prisoners don't know if they are being watched so they constantly act as though they are.
Trends in Punishment
Trends In Punishment
1. Changing role of prisons - Previously prisons were mainly a place for holding offenders. Now imprisonment is seen as a form of punishment itself. However, with the amount of people reoffending, it may just be a way of making bad people worse.
Politicians have called for tougher prison sentences, resulting in a rising prison population. Most prisoners are young, male and poorly educated. Ethnic minorities are over-represented.
2. Transcarceration - People are moving between different prison-like institutions. e.g. Care home, young offenders institution, adult prison. There has been a blurring of boundaries between criminal justice and welfare agencies. e.g. Social services, health and housing are increasingly given a crime control role.
3. Alternatives to prison - There has been a growth in the amount of community based controls. e.g. Curfews, tagging, community service orders. Cohen argues that rather than diverting young people away from the criminal justice system, community controls may divert them into it.
Victims of Crime
Victims of Crime
Our definition - those who have suffered harm through acts that violate the law.
Christie argues that this is also a socially constructed category of people.
- Positivist Victimology focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence. Victim proneness = Characteristics that make victims more vulnerable.
- Critical Victimology focuses on structural factors like patriarchy and poverty. It places powerless groups such as women and the poor at greater risk.
Patterns of Victimisation
- 4% of the population are victims of 44% of all crimes. Less powerful groups are more likely to be repeat victims.
- The poor are more likely to be victims.
- The young are more vulnerable to assault, sexual harassment, theft, abuse.
- Minority groups are at greater risk than whites.
- Males are at greater risk of violent crimes. Females are at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and harassment.
Impact of Victimisation
The Impact of Victimisation
Crime may have a serious physical or emotional impact on its victims. e.g. feelings of helplessness, increased security-consciousness, difficulties in socialising.
Crime may also create 'indirect' victims - friends, relatives and witnesses.
Hate crimes against minorities may create 'waves of crime' that intimidate whole communities.
Secondary victimisation - In addition to the impact of the crime, individuals may also suffer further victimisation in the CJS.
Crime may create a fear of becoming a victim even if such fears are irrational. e.g. Women may be afraid of going out at night for fear of attack.