Left realism


Left Realism:Introduction

:-Developed since the1980s

-Its key figure is former critical criminologist Young

-It has developed as a response to:

1. The need to take rising crime rates seriously and to produce practical solutions.

2. The influence of right realism on governement politics

-Left realists see society as unequal due to Capitalism (Like Marxists)

-They are reformists (want gradual change) rather than revolutionary socialists (want violent overthrow of capitalism)

.-This is how they want to bring about greater equality.

-We need to develop practical explanations of crime in order to find ways to reduce it now.Taking crime seriously:

-Crime particularly affects the disadvantaged groups.

-L.Rs accused other sociologists of not taking crime seriously

:1. Traditional Marxists:

-Concentrate on the crimes of the powerful (like corporate crime) rather than W.C crime and their effects.

2. Neo-Marxists:-Romanticise W.C criminals as commiting crime to show their resistance theire opression caused by Capitalism.

-However, W.C criminals often commit crime against others in the same or similar social class to them rather than the rich.

3. Labelling theorists:

-See W.C criminals as those who are the victims of discriminatory labelling and ignore their victims (Other W.C people)

-They take crime very seriously as there has been a real increase in crime since the 1950s. (Especially W.C crime)-Young: This has led to an "aetiological crisis," (A crisis for an explanation of crime that is accurate as all others have failed to explain and therefore prevent crime).

-L.Rs believe that this increase in crime is too great to be explained as a social construction (labelling theorists)

-More people are reporting crime because more people are actually falling victim to crime. -Taking crime seriously involves recognising who is more affecting by crime.

-Local victim surveys show that the scale of the problem of crime is actually greater than official statistics suggest.

- Also, that victims of crime are more likely to be disadvantaged

- For example: Unskilled workers are two times more likely to be burguled as others.

- Therefore, disadvantaged groups have greater fear of crime and it has a greater effect on their lives.

-They are also less likely to report it.

Lea and Young:The causes of crime:

1. Relative deprivation:

-Although crime has its routes in deprivation, it is not the soul cause of it.

-For example: There was extreme poverty in the 1930s (The great depression) but crime rates were low

.-On the other hand, in the 1950s crime rates had risen, even though the standard of living was greatly improved

.-The paradox of today's society being both prosperous and criminnal is due to the fact that the media raises expectations of material possessions so people feel relatively deprived

.-(This is built on Runciman's definition of R.D as: "How deprived someone feels in relation to others/compared with their own expectations).

-If they cannot afford them, they may resort to crime in stead.

-Young: Individualism leads to an increase in crime as it encourages the pursuit of self interest at the expense of others.


Pete Langley - Get Revising founder


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