Realists and Crime


Right Realism

  • based on conservative policy 
  • looks at the causes of crime and what can be put in place as deterrants 
  • moved away from causes into practical crime and control measures 

Rational Choice Theory 

  • Individuals have free will
  • Clarke (1980) criminals believe the pros of crime outweigh the conds
  • the percieved costs of crime are low
  • Felson (1975) offenders are motivated and choose targets without a capable gaurdian to tackle , this can be informal such as bystanders or formal such as police

Bio Social Differences 

  • Wilson and Herrnstein (1985) people are innately predisposed to commit crime
  • personality traits such as aggression or socialisation of the group such as risk taking 
  • low intelligence 
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Right Realism


  • Murray (1990) crime is increasing because of a growing underclass 
  • they are defined by deviant behaviour and failed socialisation
  • they are a result of welfare dependency, decline in marriage and lone parents
  • they undermind the values of hard work and personal responsibility 

New Right Realism 

  • Kelling and Wilson (1982) Broken Windows theory 
  • if you tackle mild incivilities we will not experience harder crime 

Solutions for Crime

  • Zero Tolerance
  • Target Hardening 
  • control, contain, punish
  • CCTV
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Left Realism

  • look at the individual and the causes which could have led them to commit crime 
  • stems from Jock Young who was originally a neo marxist 

Other perpectives don't take crime seriously;

  • traditional marxism - focus too much on corporate crime, neglecting the working class and its contribution to crime
  • neo marxism - romantacise working class criminals as the latter day Robin Hood and see them as political resistance to capitalisms when in fact the working class victimise other working class people 
  • labelling theorists - the working class are victims of discriminatory labelling, this neglects the real victims, the working class at the suffering hands of crime 

Young (1997)

  • aetiological crisis
  • we need to acknowledge the rising crime rate and the disadvantaged groups at risk
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Left Realism and Causes of Crime

Relative Deprivation

  • poverty was rife in the 30s but the crime rate was low, in the 50s living standards got better and crime rate increased
  • this suggests resentment leads to crime,people are more aware of their place in society 
  • those who can not afford consumer goods turn to crime 


  • are a solution to the relative deprivation problem 
  • some try to close the deprivation gap and others try to find spiritual collective comfort 
  • still subscribe to mainstream goals 


  • lack goals and organisations that represent them 
  • unemployed, youth and ethnic minorities 
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Left Realism and Tackling Crime

  • reduce crime through community based projects 
  • need a more multi agency approach 
  • this should involve the local council, housing depatments, schools, volunteer organisations and leisures servies
  • we must deal with the inequalities in society e.g. providing jobs 
  • must be more tolerant of diversity 
  • protect vulnerable groups
  • e.g. ASBO, domestic violence victims 
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