Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess different Marxist views of the relationship between crime and social class. (21) The traditional Marxists believe that the main cause of crime is the capitalist society. They believe that crime is inevitable because capitalism is criminogenic, by it’s very nature it causes crime. David Gordon argues that crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and hence it is found in all social classes, even thought the statistics make it seem to be a largely working class phenomenon,. Poverty may mean that crime is the only way that the working class can survive, as crime may e the only way that they can obtain the consumer goods encouraged by the capitalist advertising, resulting in utilitarian crimes such as theft.
Because Marxists see the ‘system’ as the cause of crime, much of the focus is on systems of power and control (that is, the police and courts). William Chambliss (1978) argued that there are many things that could be deemed as criminal if the laws where not specified by the ruling class, for example the unfair distribution of wealth which is highlighted by the discrepancy between the substantially wealthy residing in close proximity to the homeless. Chambliss went on to argue that the state passes laws to protect property rather than people, claiming that “the heart of the capitalist state is the protection of private property”. Pearce (1976) further argues that whilst some laws are passed that appear to benefit the working class (for example, health and safety), they actually serve a hidden purpose. Not only does it ensure a healthy and efficient workforce, it increases feelings of loyalty towards employers, thus serving the needs of the owners of the means of production.
Chambliss (1976) suggests that this conflict culture that has emerged from capitalism encourages crime . Snider (1993) argues that the effects of robberies and petty theft are much smaller than the losses created by big businesses engaging in corporate crimes. The Traditional Marxist view of law-creation suggests that all laws are created in the interests of the ruling class. It fails to recognise that there are a wide range of laws that benefit everyone, such as laws on health and safety, and consumer protection. The police are not there to repress the working-class as ruling class agents; they protect the public from victimisation.
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.
However evidence shows that criminals are most likely to come from the working class, the young and the black community. Marxists also talk about law creation; they say law is a reflection of the will of the powerful. They believe that the rich are able to manipulate the rest of us and pass laws which benefit them they do this in two ways. The first way being through setting the agenda, this means that the debate on law and order is conducted in a frame work of values sympathetic to the ruling class. The second way is through pressure group activity, law changes are often a result from pressure group lobbying by the government.
Asses different Marxist views of the relationship between crime and social class (21 marks) A traditional Marxist theory explains that the workings of society can be explained by the concept of exploitation, such as the exploitation of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, this was the starting foundation of Chambliss theory to exploring the relationship between class and crime. The traditional Marxist view to crime is that the criminal law justice system is extremely beneficial to the ruling class. The dominant ideology of the ruling classes is disseminated through agencies such as, education, media, and religion which is forced onto individuals, this process is known as hegemony. Capitalism is based on consumerism, selfishness and competition therefore crime can be considered a normal outcome of these values which stress looking after one self at the expense of others, in other words even though capitalist benefit most out of the criminal justice system if we look at their personality traits and the whole concept of capitalism it is more likely that upper class people in this business have the ability to commit such crimes as they are used to using the motto, every man for them self. Marxist theory provides an explanation of how crime is dealt with in society, in order to maintain the status quo.
Marxist theories of religion relates mainly on how religion helps dominate the Bourgeoisie within the society by the Proletariat. The division of the two classes where the Middle class who owns the means of production, exploits the labour of Working class in the capitalist society. There are many ways whereby Marx replicates his theories against religion whether it has created a positive or negative societal effect. Other perspectives such as Functionalism and Feminism criticises Marx’s values according to the different roles of religions. Firstly, Marx argues that religion is portrayed as an ideology where there’s a set of ideas and values, in other words, a belief system that disadvantages the Working class as they become exploited.
First, it is important to realize Congress is largely composed of members from the capitalist class itself, so it might naturally want to protect “its own”. Also, campaign contributions and the lobbying process greatly influence how Congress passes laws benefitting big business. Parenti says “The power of money works ceaselessly to reduce the influence of citizens who have nothing to offer but their votes.” Parenti explains how the “legislative labyrinth” affects the work of Congress, how Senate terms of office blunt sweeping sentiment changes, and how the very structure of Congress keeps it conservative and supportive of capitalists, not every-day Americans. He notes “legislative democracy is under siege,” held virtually hostage by “the entire corporate social order” with its control of the nation’s wealth, mass media, and whole network of powerful figures
When people think about crime several things come to mind: murder, rape, drugs and assault. People should not forget that white collar and corporate crimes such as embezzlement and toxic waste dumping are equally as important. If you asks those same people, they would agree that crime hurts society and that laws where created to protect society. Unfortunately, citizens tend to forget that crime is socially constructed and how society perceives the social problem of crime determines how the problem is treated. According to the articles “Making slave Labor Fly,” and “Crime and Policy,” politicians have devised many ways to control how society believes social problems should be treated to further their own agenda.
Postmodernist claim that we have entered a new postmodern phase which is fragmented and more diverse. Assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of the role of education Marxists take a class conflict approach. They see social institutions such as the education system as serving the needs of capitalism and it reproduces class inequality and plays an ideological role by persuading exploited workers that inequality is justified and acceptable. Althusser sees education as an ideological state apparatus that keeps the bourgeoisie in power as they control the state. Capitalists are able to control people’s ideas, beliefs and values and they are also able to suppress the working class via the police and courts.