Marxism and crime

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  • Created by: lottiem98
  • Created on: 16-06-16 17:30

What is the marxist subcultural approach?

  • By sociologists at the university of Birmingham
  • Subcultural + marxist approach combined
  • "Capitalism controls people by locking them into society"
  • Groups not locked into society (Mainly WC male youths) unlikely to be locked in
  • Brake (1980): Youth subcultures provide this resistance in form that is magical through the clothes they wear and the language they use
  • Continuation of exploitation: Each new generation of WC boys will experience this
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How are people locked into society?

1. Ideological dominance through the media (media showing UC values)

2. Economic pressures (People want to keep their job and pay their mortgage, and they risk this should they commit a crime)

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Criticisms of marxist subcultural approach

  • Cohen (1980): BIAS. They wanted to find that youth subcultures attack the capitalist system- used fixed evidence to prove this
  • Many ways to interpret youth subcultures; Researchers extracted what they wanted
  • Blackman (1995): Other social factors provide variations in subcultures
  • Thornton (1995): Its all a media panic
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What is new criminology?

  • Taylor, Walton and Young (1973):
  • Hybridised Marxism with interactionalism
  • Believed researchers must look at the actions of individuals and the wider capitalist society
  • Issues, such as behaviour, victim, offender, media and justice system should all be covered
  • WC criminals are angry with the capitalist system and take out their anger through crime rather than through politics
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New criminology: A fully social theory of society

1. The wider origins of the deviant act

2. Immediate origins of the deviant act

3. The actual act

4. Immediate origins of social reactions

5. Wider origins of deviant reactions

6. Outcome of societal reactions on the deviants further reaction

7. The nature of the deviant process as a whole

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Criticisms of new criminology

Hirst: Strays too far away from traditional marxism

Rock: Gave a far too romantic view of criminals. We should be combatting crime rather than sympathising

Feminist criminologists: Ignores the power of patriarchy and continues with the omission from their studies

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What is traditional marxism?

  • By Bonger (1916) and Chambliss (1975)
  • Marxist approach to crime as Marx never specifically said anythig in relation to crime
  • 5 key elements

1.Basis of criminal law


3.Law enforcement

4.Individual motivation

5.Crime and control

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Traditional Marxism: Basis of criminal law

  • Marxists claim that laws benefit the ruling class and their interests (such as property laws benefiting the rich)
  • Right to use violence remains with controllers of society (eg. Police and army)


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Traditional Marxism: Hegemonic

  • The rich and powerful impose their values on masses through education and media (known as hegemonic)
  • The values form the basis of democracy
  • Values then forced on people
  • People believe they're agreeing to their own values but in reality they're benfitting the ruling class
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Traditional marxism: Law enforcement

  • Law making process reflects the interests of the ruling class
  • Interpretationt enforcement reflects the ruling class- bias (eg. Police system arrest and prosecute those who oppose ruling class values from the working class, as ruling class crimes are often ignored
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Traditional marxism: individual motivation

  • Bonger (1916): capitalism is based on selfishness, competition and greed
  • People project these values into their own lives
  • Crime is the normal outcome for those who project these values into their lives (i.e. looking after oneself over others)
  • In many cases, people drive to crime in desperate situations
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Traditional marxism: Crime and control

  • Crime supports ideology of capitalism and diverts them away from attention
  • Crime focuses attention on fighting evil and on the police who protect us
  • Justifies high policing and stop and search rates in working class areas. Justifies arrests of those who oppose capitalism
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Criticisms of traditional marxist approach

  • Victims of crime are ignored; harm done not taken into account but most victims are WC
  • Law making is a complex process which doesnt necessarily reflect RC values
  • Marx himself never talked about crime. Based on assumptions
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