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.
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.
Assess different Marxist views of the relationship between crime and social class. (21 marks) Marxists attack traditional sociological theories of crime and deviance because they believe that crime arises from the very definitions of crime (what it is) as determined by the ruling classes. Traditional explanations are incorrect because they are based on definitions of crime that are imposed by those in authority and these laws are an expression of ruling class ideology. Essentially they argue that the criminal justice system is managed by the bourgeoisie, who set the parameters of what is legal and otherwise to suit their own means. 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).
Bellamy saw the select few who were wealthy as abusers of their power and money. He always portrays them as heartless. Another problem Bellamy describes are the selfishly motivated people of his century. Not only did he find the wealthy to be selfish, he felt that the hard working lower class was working for the wrong reasons. He explains to the utopian world that where he came from people were motivated to work only because of fear of poverty, as opposed to bettering their community or pursuing their passions.
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.
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.
According to this theory, there are “institutional arrangements that provide for success”, and they include family, religion, economy, education and politics (notes). This theory viewed America as a highly competitive society in which the less fortunate are left behind. Strain is felt because they lack equal opportunity and so they adapt to this reality in illegal ways, such as drug dealing, stealing and gangs. These individuals felt pressure from their society to conform to certain ideals and that is what drove them to become criminals. Stress stems from the world trying to reach the “American Dream”.
General Strain Theory Can were on lives or the lack of money cause someone to commit a crime? Or can the stress of losing someone trigger so many emotions that it will cause someone to kill in revenge? According to the General Strain Theory this may be the case. Criminology today an integrative introduction defines Strain as the pressure that individuals feel to reach socially determined goals (Schmalleger, 2012, p.157). General Strain Theory is considered to be a social structure theory which looks at the formal and informal economic and social arrangements (or structure) of society as the root causes of crime and deviance (Schmalleger, 2012, p.151).
Some of these criminals are in trouble with crime because of their social standings in their communities. “Social structure theory has three schools of thought--social disorganization, strain, and cultural deviance theories” (Seigel, 2000). The social disorganization theory states that a person resorts to crime because of the location and economic standing that the person is in. If a person is poor it is thought of that the person will more likely commit a crime. The social strain theory states that the person commits the crime because they are angry because they are not able to succeed economically as he/she would like to.
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.