Conflict/Marxist Theories of Crime

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Conflict/Marxist Theories of Crime

  1. 1. - How do Conflict Theorists explain crime and deviance? - Marxist Theorists
  2. 2.  Conflict theory is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime are the social and economic forces operating within society.  The criminal justice system aims at imposing standards of morality and good behaviour created by the powerful on the whole of society.  Thus, street crimes are punished quite severely, while large scale financial and business crimes are treated much more leniently. Q. List some white collar and some blue collar crimes. Which are punished more severely?
  3. 3.  Assumes that dominant groups in society use the law as a way of maintaining their dominance over subordinate groups.  Those who are white, male, wealthy and politically connected are the dominant members of society and those who are poor and a member of a minority group are the subordinate group.  These subordinate groups pose a threat and the dominant groups use the law to keep them from uprising. Q. Who are the dominant and subordinate groups in our society?
  4. 4.  Modern capitalist societies were controlled by a wealthy few (bourgeoisie) who controlled the means of production while everyone else (proletariat) was reduced to the lot of being wage labourers.  While Marx himself never addressed crime, the Marxist theory of crime (radical criminology) states that crime occurs due to a class struggle. Karl Marx (1818- 1883) Q. What would Marxists cite as being the main cause of crime?
  5. 5.  Marxist Theorists believe that the values of Capitalism – Individualism, Competition and Consumerism – create a society which doesn’t care enough about one another.  Frustrations of being on a long income can create the opportunities to commit crime.  Stephen Box (1937-1987) argued that the ruling classes have the power to block laws that aren’t in their interests.  Marxists therefore believe that the CJS is selective and biased. Q. What are the merits of this theory?
  6. 6.  Accused of  being over reliant on class division to explain offending behaviour  Doesn’t explain why most people in most classes do not offend.  Accused of over- focussing on offenders and justifying offending behaviour. Ignoring the victims.  Suggests little can be done to protect people from offending short of revolution  No crime in a socialist country?
  7. 7.  Accused of  being over reliant on class division to explain offending behaviour  Doesn’t explain why most people in most classes do not offend.  Accused of over- focussing on offenders and justifying offending behaviour. Ignoring the victims.  Suggests little can be done to protect people from offending short of revolution  No crime in a socialist country?

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