Marxist Theories Crime and Deviance

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Traditional Marxism

Crimeogenic Capitalism - For Marxists crime is inevitable in capitalism because its very nature causes crime. Examples of this include poverty where crime is the only means of survival. Gordon (1976) argues that crime is a rational response in capitalist society hence it is found in all social classes.

Not all crime is confined to the working class, capitalism is a 'dog eat dog system of ruthless competition. Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates, for example Japan and Switzerland have lower crime rates than the USA.

The state and law making - Marxists see law making only benefiting the working class. Chambliss (1975) argues that laws protecting private property are constone to capitalist economy. Snider (1993) argues that the capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of business or threaten their profitability.

Functionalists see the law as reflecting a value consensus and representing the interests of society as a whole. Left realists argue they foucs too much on crimes of the powerful and ignore interclass crimes.

Ideological functions of crime - Law making provides an ideological function for capitalism due to laws are occasionally passed which appear to beneift the working class and not the ruling class. Carson conducted a study into 200 firms and found that they all broke health and saftey proccedures, however only 1.5% were convicted.

Pearce 1976 argues that there are rules which also benefit the working class such as fit for work policies. 

Traditional Marxists view often ignores the relaitonship between crime and non class inequalitites such as gender.

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Neo Marxism

Critical Criminology - Taylor et al takes a voluntaristic view and sees individuals as having free will, crime is a concious choice by the actor. Criminals are not passive puppets and there behaviour is shaped by society.

Taylor et al agrees with traditional Marxists that capitalist society is based on conflict, state makes and enforces the rules in favour of capitalism, he beleives that there should now be a classless society.

Burke (2005) argues that critical criminology is too general to explain crime and too idealistic to tackle crime.

A fully social theory of deviance - Taylor et al aims to create a 'fully social theory of deviance' meaning a comprehensive understanding of crime and deviance which would help change society. This needs to unite 6 aspects if it is to occur: wider origins of the act, immediate origins of the act, act itself, immediate origins of societal reaction, wider origins of societal reaction and the effects of labelling.

Feminists argue that this approach is gender blind becuase of the focus on males crime.

Left realism argues that Neo Marxism idealizes working class as robin hoods fighting against capitalist rule.

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