Marxist Theory

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  • Created by: ClaryFray
  • Created on: 24-08-15 15:14

Capitalism is criminogenic

Gordon states that capitalism causes inequalities in health, income, poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Class inequality in a capitalist economic system is a major cause of crime


Capitalism is criminogenic which means that crime is caused by and inevitable due to capitalism.


Marxists argue that crime is a logical response to economic deprivation and feelings of hostility and envy towards the wealthy, as well as feelings of frustration and failure within the mind of the working class criminal, are natural.

Money and violent crimes are caused by capitalism as there is always more you can have and this is why you can find crime at every level of society as greed still exists.

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How is crime enforced by those in power

According to Marxists; crime is defined, identified and enforced by those in power through the following processes:

Manipulation of values- society is socialised into values such as self-interest, competition, freedom and rights of private property that support the capitalist view mainly through school and mass media. Should this not work, threat is the fall back. The public’s general belief is that crime is highest among the least powerful and therefore these groups are targeted for explanations of crime and the more powerful groups are ignored.


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How is crime enforced by those in power

Law creation- economic power guarantees social and political power thus the rich are able to pass laws beneficial to themselves. The Marxists say that the powerful set agendas for the working class to benefit the rich and powerful. The media exaggerate and make the public believe the rich and powerful belief. (The media set the agenda). If setting the agenda didn’t work than pressure groups are used-groups pressure the government to benefit them e.g. the NSPCC

However there are some laws that benefit everyone regardless of power e.g. rope laws (to keep us safe)


Law enforcement: This is selective; certain types of crime are likely to be dealt with more rigorously than others.

Certain groups in the population are more likely to be on the receiving end of law enforcement. Inner city areas have more police patrolling than any other areas.

Marxists also point to the differences in sentencing policies when it comes to certain types of crime. Financial swindles if come to court, are not regarded as serious or punished with crime sentences.

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·         It shows the link between law making and enforcement and the interests of the capitalist society.

·         The view has influenced recent approaches to study the crimes of the powerful e.g. Slapper and Tombs argue that corporate crime is under-policed and rarely prosecuted or punished severely which encourages companies to carry out crimes to make profits; at the expense of their workers.

·         It ignores the relationship between crime and non-class inequalities like gender and ethnicity

·         Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates e.g. Japan but Marxists do point out that countries that have no welfare state e.g. USA commit more crimes

·         The criminal justice system does sometimes act against the interests of the capitalists’ class e.g. laws against corporate crimes

·         Deterministic and over predicts amount of crime in working class

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