Examine some of the ways in which Marxists explain crime (12 marks)
1.Causing or leading to crime. 2.It produces poverty, so the poor turn to crime to meet their basic needs; advertising fuels the desire for goods that people cannot afford; capitalism encourages success at all costs among capitalists; it produces alienation among workers, which may be expressed in violent or anti-social behaviour. 3.By showing how the law was used to coerce the population into working on the British colonists’ plantations. 4.Blame is attached to working-class criminals and so divides the working class; some laws (e.g. health and safety) appear to benefit the working class, giving capitalism a ‘caring face’; occasionally prosecuting capitalists makes it seem as if there is not one law for the rich and one for the poor. 5.A deterministic view of behaviour suggests that crime is caused by external factors, such as subcultures or poverty. A voluntaristic view of behaviour sees the criminal as having free will and their crime is therefore the result of choice. 6.Because it romanticises working-class crime as revolutionary, ignores the victims and does not suggest useful ways to tackle crime. 7.The assumption made by some theories that the purpose of the sociological study of crime is to find ways of correcting criminal or deviant behaviour.
21 mark- page 35 revision guide
Neo MarxismCritical Criminology
Lesson Objectives• Introduce Neo-Marxist explanations of C&D• Be able to compare Neo-Marxism to Traditional Marxism• Evaluate Neo-Marxist views
Last Lesson Recap• What is a traditional Marxist view of C&D?• What does the term crimogenic mean?• Why is capitalism crimogenic?• What criticisms exist?• Why do Marxists say law making and enforcement is selective?
Neo-Marxism: Taylor, Walton and Young• They are Sociologists that agree with traditional Marxists but they combine these with ideas from other approaches such as labelling theory. They agree that:1. Capitalism is based on exploitation and inequality, and characterised by extreme inequalities of wealth and power. Understanding this is key to understanding crime2. The state makes and enforces laws in the interests of capitalism and criminalises the WC3. Capitalism should be replaced by a classless society, which would greatly reduce crime
• Taylor et al criticise Marxist and Non-Marxist approaches (critical criminology).• They thought that traditional Marxism ignored the idea that individuals have free will to decide how they act. Marxism sees workers as driven to commit crime out of economic necessity. They reject this view along with other theories that claim crime is caused by external factors e.g. anomie, blocked opportunities. What would we call this?
• Crimes against property e.g. theft/burglary are a reaction to wealth inequality• Vandalism is a symbolic attack on societies obsession with property
Voluntarism• Taylor et al take a more voluntaristic view (free will)• Crime is a conscious choice often with a political motive e.g. to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor (Robin Hood). Criminals are deliberately struggling to change society (they are not passive puppets)• Along with believing there should be a classless society, they also emphasise the importance of liberty and diversity.• Individuals should not be labelled deviant because they are different- they should be free to live as they wish
A fully social theory of deviance• Taylor et al aim to create a ‘fully social theory of deviance’- a comprehensive understanding of C&D that would help to change society for the better. The theory would have 2 main sources:1. Trad Marxist ideas about the unequal distribution of wealth and who has the power to make and enforce the law2. Ideas from Interactionism and labelling theory about the meaning of the deviant act for the actor, societal reaction to it, and the effects of the deviant label on the individual
SummariseA complete theory of deviance needs to unite six aspects: Page 90
Activity• Identify one imaginary criminal act, such as stealing a mobile phone or bike, selling drugs, or burglary. Now show how it could be analysed using Taylor’s framework.1. What are the wider origins of the act (for example, economic or social circumstances)?2. What are the immediate origins of the act (why the person decided to commit it)?3. Why this act rather than another?4. What social reactions might result immediately from family, education or social control agents?5. What are the wider origins of these reactions?6. How might these reactions affect the person’s future behaviour?
Evaluation of critical criminology• Feminists criticise Taylor et al for being ‘gender blind’ focussing on male criminality and at the expense of female criminality• Others criticise traditional Marxism for largely ignoring non property C&D• Left Realists criticise Neo-Marxism for romanticising WC criminals as ‘Robin Hoods’ fighting capitalism. However in reality these criminals simply prey on the poor.
Evaluation of critical criminology cont…• Roger Burke argues that critical criminology is too general to explain crime and too idealistic to be useful in tackling crime• Difficult to imagine a political motive underpinning crimes such as domestic violence/rape and child abuse• Most victims of W/C and black crime are W/C and black, Taylor et al do not take such crime seriously and they ignore its effects on WC victims
Summary• Reject the ideas of traditional Marxists• They are voluntarists (believe individuals have free will)• W/C and ethnic minority groups experience the constraints of capitalism and then make choices about how they should react to this experience
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 appears as if the W/C 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 capitalist property, it also performs ideological functions. By contrast Neo- Marxists take a less deterministic view of WC crime and see it as often having an anti-capitalist political motivation• Assess the view that crime is the product of capitalism (21 marks)