Realist theories of crime


Basic Realism

Realists see crime as a real problem, especially for victims and offers policies to reduce it 

Right: conservative view with zero tolernce (racist sexist etc). Highly influencial in US and UK

Left: reform sociologists who favour policies that promote equality

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Right Realism

Other theories have falied to solve crime so a zero tolernce CJS must be put in place. Mainly concerned w the practical ways of reducing crime I.e control and punishment instead of rehabilitation and opportunuties 

Causes of crime:

  • Biological differences: predisposition to commit criem (CDH13 gene) 
  • The underclass: poor socialisation
  • Rational class theory: if gains outweigh the consequnces people will rationally act on such thouhts (Clarke)

Solutions: keeping society orderly (graffiti removal etc), zero tolerance polcing and incresed sentences

- ignores structural causes of crime  (ingores coorporate crime)

- over-emphasises effect of bad neighborhoods, ignores reason for decline 

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Left Realism

Crime is a real problem, more concerned with reform: opposes class inequality, gradual reform is the only way, need realistic solutions rather than future goals 

Causes of crime:

  • Relative deprivation: when people feel their life is unfair , they resort to crime 
  • Subculture: groups solution to relative deprivation, 
  • Marginalisation: unemployed youth are marginalised, powerless mass

Late modernity and crime: Younge- in late modernity, problem of WC crime is worse. Harsher welfare policies and destabalisation of familiy lead to uncertainty and need for monetary success


  • Democratic policing: involving community in policy creation w a multi agency approach
  • Reducing inequality: removes underlying causes

- ignores rulign class crime 

- over-predicts amount of WC crime (uses inner city stats)

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