Left Realism (Neo Marxists)

Lea and Young:

  • Causes of crime are result of inequalities by capitalism
  • It is unhelpful to see criminals as victims of a Capitalist soicety
  • Although crimes are committed by the rish and powerful, these do not cause fear
  • Focus of criminiology should be on victims
  • LR completed victim studies in areas like Islington showed real victims of crime are poor and deprived
  • The victims lived in inner cities, were unemployed or had low incomes and saw street crime/burglary as a big problem
  • Under reporting of crimes such as assaults/domestic violence or assaults
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LR Causes of Crime

Relative Deprivation

  • People may feel deprived in relation to others or their own expectations
  • This can lead to crime as they feel resentment that others have more than them and resort to crime to obtain what they feel they are entitled to
  • Poverty was rife in the 1930s yet crime rates were low
  • RD is due to media and advertising which raises everyone's expectations for material posessions
  • Young - HOWEVER, RD doesn't always lead to crime
  • Individualism causes crime by encouraging pursuit of self interest at expense of others
  • For LR: Increasing individualism is also causing disintegration of families/communities by undermining the values of mutual support/selflessness on which they are based 
  • Also weakens the internal controls that such groups exercise over individuals creating crime
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LR Causes of Crime


  • A group's reaction to the failure of achieving mainstream goals
  • Different groups may produce different subcultural solutions, some may turn to crime to close 'deprivation gap' while others may find religion offers spiritual comfort
  • Such religious subcultures encourage conformity
  • Criminal subcultures still subscribe to values/goals of mainstream society such as materialism
  • Opportunities to achieve goals such as the American Dream legitimately are blocked so may resort to street crime 
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LR Causes of Crime


  • Groups lack both clear groups and organisations to represent their interests
  • Groups like workers have clear goals (better pay) and organisations such as trade unions to put pressure on employers so don't need to resort to violence
  • In contrast, unemployed youths are marginalised so they have no organisation to represent them and no clear goals just frustruation
  • As they are powerless, they express their frustruation through criminal means like violence/rioting
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LR Solutions to Crime

LR believe it is the role of the sociologist to provide policy makers with reccommendations to limit harm that crime can do to the poorer sections of community. LR differs to RR because the aim is to address the root of the crime rather than remove opps for crime

  • National Strategies:
  • NEETS - young, w/c, male
  • Raising of the school age (to leave school)
  • Sure Start
  • Apprenticeships
  • Local Strategies:
  • Youth Clubs
  • Bursary Schemes
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LR and Social Policy

  • The Perry pre-school project:
  • Community program for disadvantaged black children in Michigan
  • Experimental group of 3-4 year olds was offered a two year intellectual enrichment programme where the children also received home visits
  • Longitudinal study followed the children's progress and it showed differences with a control group who had not undergone the program
  • By age 40 they had significantly fewer lifetime arrests for violent crime and drugs while more had graduated from high school and were employed
  • For every dollar spent on the programme, $17 was saved on welfare, prison etc
  • Criticisms
  • Expensive (short term)
  • Time consuming
  • Not representative (small sample)
  • No guarantee it will work on other social groups
  • Gov might not accept inequality is real reason of crime
  • There are other short term quick fixes/strategies
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