Topic 3 - Neo-Marxism: critical criminology


Neo-Marxisms: critical criminology

Been influenced by Marxist ideas, combine w/ ideas from other approaches eg labelling theory.

The New Criminology - Taylor, Walton + Young (1973. Taylor et al agree w/ Marxists that:

  • capitalist society based on exploitation + class conflict + characterised by extreme inequalities of wealth + power. Understanding this key to understanding crime.
  • state makes + enforces laws in interests of capitalist class + criminalises members of w/c.
  • capitalism should be replaced by classless society - would reduce extent of crime/rid society of crime entirely.

Differ from Marxists - describe approach as critical criminology.

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Taylor et al argue Marxism deterministic b/c sees workers as driven to commit crime out of econ necessity.

Reject explanation - more voluntaristic view. See crime as meaningful action + conscious choice by actor. Argue crime often has political motive. Criminals not passive puppets whose behaviour shaped by capitalism: deliberately striving to change society.

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A fully social theory of deviance

Taylor et al aim to create 'fully social theory of deviance'. 2 main sources:
 - M ideas about uneq distribution of wealth + who has power to make + enforce law
 - Interactionist + labelling ideas about meaning of deviant act for actor, societal reactions to it, + effects of deviant label on individual.

This view, complete theory of deviance needs to unite 6 aspects:
 - wider origins of deviant act
 - immediate origins of deviant act
 - act itself
 - immediate origins of societal reaction
 - wider origins of societal reaction
 - effects of labelling

6 aspects interrelated + need to be understood together as part of unified theory.

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Evaluation of critical criminology

Left realists criticisms:
 - romanticises w/c criminals as 'Robin Hoods'.
 - don't take crime seriously, ignore effects on w/c victims

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