Left and Right Realism and crime

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Left Realism - 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime'.

Right Realism - tougher on the criminals than on the causes.

Left Realism 

  • Crime was a serious problem, particularly in more deprived inner-city areas, and needed policies to tackle it.
  • Street crime primarily worried people, like: mugging, violence, car crime and burglary: mainly carried out by young working-class males.
  • The poor are at the greatest risk of becoming victims to these offences, the deprived white and minority ethnic residents living in inner-city areas.
  • Most people do not care much about white-collar and corporate crime as it has little impact on their lives.
  • Structural inequalities, social condition and perceptions of injustice are the major causes of crime.

Lea and Young - why people turn to crime:

  • Relative deprivation - it is not deprivation as such which causes people to commit crime, as most deprived people do not turn to crime, but whether they see themselves as deprived relative to others they compare themselves. This can generate discontent and resentment as their expectations are not met.
  • Marginalisation - some groups experience marginality, as they find themselves politically and economically 'on the edge' of mainstream society, and face social exclusion through factors like poor educational achievement, unemployment and lack of involvement in community organisations. Such marginality, combined with relative deprivation, can lead to anti-social behaviour, crime, violence and rioting as there are few other means of expressing their frustrations and resentments at their exclusions.
  • Subculture - working-class deviant subculture emerge as group solutions to the problems of relative deprivation and marginality arising from social inequality, though they take different forms over time and in different contexts, such as street gangs or various youth subcultures, These can act as motivators for crime, as some working-class subcultures see offending as acceptable behaviour.

Young -

  • Late modern societies are media saturated, and everyone, even the poorest, is included in consumer culture through constant exposure to advertising of consumer goods and media-generated lifestyles, which raise everyone's expectations of what a good life is like.
  • This cultural inclusion is accompanied for those at the bottom of the class structure by social and economic exclusion, which means they cannot afford to actively participate in consumer society, as they cannot afford to buy goods necessary to forge new identities and lifestyles.
  • This process whereby cultural inclusion was combined with social and economic exclusion was creating a 'bulimic society', in which people gorge themselves on media images of expensive consumer lifestyles, but are then forced by economic circumstances to vomit out their raising expectations. This intensifies the sense of frustration, resentment and anger among young people at their relative deprivation.
  • Lewis found the desire to consume by looting what was otherwise denied them in a bulimic society was a significant factor motivating some of the 13,000 to 15,000 people involved in the riots and looting in English cities in August 2011. 
  • The intensified sense of relative deprivation is made worse by three feature of late modernity:

1. Growing…


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