Crime and Deviance - Assess the view that Crime is the product of Capitalism (21 marks)

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Gareth Collins

Crime and Deviance; Topical questions.

Read item A and answer the question that follows

Item A Traditional Marxists see capitalist society as the basic cause of crime because it is the source of poverty, greed and self-interest. Although from the official crime statistics it appeas as if the working class are responsible for most crime, in reality crime is found throughout all social classes. Marxists also see the law as performing important functions for capitalism. Not only does it protect capitalists’ property; it also performs ideological functions. 

By Contrast, Neo-Marxists take a less deterministic view of working-class crime and see it as often having an ant capitalist political motivation. 

Question Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that crime is the product of capitalism. 

Traditional Marxists believe that Capitalism itself causes crime. They believe that Capitalism is what they refer to as “criminogenic” - or that due to it’s very nature it causes crime. This is because Marxism is a structural theory, and they believe that because society has a Capitalist economic base, that the superstructure reflects that base in every part. From private industry to public services, capitalist values and norms are part of every day life. From this, they then derive that because Capitalism is part of every walk of life, that crime too will be part of every walk of life. Because also, Marxism believes that there are two classes in society, the Capitalist ruling class, the Bourgeoisie, and the labouring working class, the Proletariat masses, that there should be criminals in both classes. 

For working class crime, Marxists believe that it is a response to the unfair distribution of wealth, and as such crime develops as a way to combat poverty. There is also the opinion that crime develops as a matter of frustration and aggression at the economic struggle and so actions of violence and frustration are too seen as well as those for economic gains. However this opinion is criticised for overestimating the capacity for working class crime. The Marxists are assuming that all poor people commit crimes to survive in the Capitalist economic climate however that is not necessarily the case. For this reason, it is too deterministic. 

Along with this, there is the crimes of the ruling class which are seen, because with Capitalist values such as “winning the game by any means necessary” and the…


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