Conflict theorists argue that society is based on the oppression of one group by another. There are three main conflict theories. These are traditional Marxism, neo-Marxism and Feminism. In order to assess the usefulness of these theories, crime and deviance must be separately defined. Crime is seen as breaking the laws set by the criminal justice system. However deviance does not necessarily mean breaking the law. It is straying from the accepted path or norms of a particular society.
Unlike functionalists, Marxists do not see the law as the reflection of a value consensus among society’s members. They see society as divided into two classes: the ruling class and the working class and see law and crime as arising out of the structure of capitalism. The traditional Marxists see crime as having three main elements: Criminogenic capitalism, the state and law making and ideological functions of crime and law.
In regards to Criminogenic capitalism, Marxists see crime as unavoidable in a capitalist society because by its very nature it causes crime. Since capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class, it may give rise to crime. Ways in which crime is promoted include the poverty of the working class, capitalists encouraging the purchase of goods by advertising resulting in utilitarian crimes and frustration and aggression of the working class caused by the alienation and lack of control in their lives may lead to an increase in non-utilitarian crimes.
However the Marxists also appreciate crime is not confined to the working class. Ruthless competition among capitalists lead to white-collar and corporate crimes such as tax evasion. Although these crimes are equally as serious as ‘petty’ working class crimes, there is much less focus on white collar crime despite the negative impact it has on the working class. Protestors ensured that the recent Bank scandal’s were subjected to much media attention, although very little prosecutions were pursued. As...