Assess the Usefulness of Marxist Approaches to an Understanding of Crime and Deviance

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Seen through a marxist lens, the issue of crime and deviance is rooted in the criminogenic nature of capitalism and its exploitation of the proletariat working class by their bourgeois rulers. Marxist views are useful in their linking of crime to societal structure and explaining why the working class appear to be high offenders. However, this view often excludes the effect of gender and ethnicity, neglects the victims and downplays the seriousness of 'blue-collar' crime, and can be partially disproven using contemporary examples. Capitalism, according to Robert Merton, provides certain values for society, most commonly seen as the 'American Dream' and when the proletariat seek to achieve the goals society sets for them, many cannot and must find a way around this 'strain'. This happens in many ways, but Merton most pertinently mentions 'innovative' citizens who commit crime to achieve society's goals, 'rebels' who actively reject society's values, causing them to commit crime and a 'retreatist' form of living that often involved law-breaking via drug consumption. This is useful as it not only links crimes such as robbery to the structure of society - implying that impoverished people may 'innovatively' steal the consumer goods that capitalism implies hold social gravitas - but also explains the various different fragments of society who cause different types of crime. One criticism of Merton's theory is that does not explain why people will choose a certain type of crime when faced by the 'strain' of society. Marxists also believe that the crime rate amongst the bourgeoisie is much higher than official statistics show, with much of ‘white-collar’ crime going undetected. Hughes and Langdon investigated this phenomenon and found four fundamental reasons: low visibility; high complexity; difficulty to assign blame and difficulty to ascertain victims. The

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