Marxist Theory of Crime

Mind Map by A M, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by A M about 5 years ago


A-Level Sociology (Crime & Deviance) Mind Map on Marxist Theory of Crime, created by A M on 04/05/2016.

Resource summary

Marxist Theory of Crime
      1. Crime is inevitable in capitalism because it is criminogenic - its very nature causes crime.
          1. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class for profit. As a result:
            1. Poverty may mean crime is the only way some can survive.
              1. Crime may be the only way of obtaining consumer goods encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in utilitarian crimes, e.g. theft.
                1. Alienation may cause frustration & aggression, leading to non-utilitarian crimes, e.g. violence, vandalism.
              2. RULING-CLASS CRIME
                1. Capitalism us a win-at-all-costs system of competition, while the profit motive encourages greed. This encourages capitalists to commit corporate crimes, e.g. tax evasion, breaking health & safety laws.
                  1. GORDON argues crime is a rational response to capitalism & thus is found in all classes.
                2. THE STATE & LAW MAKING
                  1. MARXISTS see law making & enforcement as serving the interests of the capitalist class.
                    1. CHAMBLISS argues that laws to protect private property are the basis of the capitalist economy.
                      1. The ruling class have the power to prevent the introduction of laws harmful to their interests. Few laws challenge the unequal distribution of wealth.
                      2. SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT
                        1. While all classes commit crime, there is selective enforcement of the law.
                          1. REIMAN shows that crimes of the powerful are much less likely to be treated as criminal offences & prosecuted.
                            1. CARSON, in a sample of 200 firms, found all had broken health & safety laws, yet only 1.5% of cases were prosecuted.
                              1. By contrast, there is a much higher rate of prosecutions for the crimes of the poor.
                        2. IDEOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF CRIME & LAW
                          1. Some laws benefit workers e.g. health & safety, however PEARCE argues that these also benefit capitalism by giving it a 'caring' face, they create false consciousness.
                            1. Because the state enforces the law selectively, crime appears to be largely working-class. This divides the working-class, encouraging workers to blame working-class criminals for their problems, rather than capitalism.
                              1. Selective enforcement distorts the crime statistics. By making crime appear largely working-class, it shifts attention from the more serious ruling-class crime.
                              2. CRITICISMS OF TRADITION MARXISM
                                1. NEO-MARXISTS TAYLOR ET AL criticise for its determinism; e.g. it sees workers as driven to commit crime out of economic necessity. They reject this view, along w/ other theories that claim crime is caused by external factors, e.g. anomie, blocked opportunities.
                                  1. Not all poor people commit crime, despite poverty & alienation.
                                    1. Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates e.g. Japan has much less crime than America.
                                      1. FEMINISTS criticise for being 'genderblind'.
                                        1. Ignores non-property crime & deviance.
                                      2. NEO-MARXISM - CRITICAL CRIMINOLOGY
                                        1. VOLUNTARISM
                                          1. TAYLOR ET AL take a voluntaristic view (the idea that we have free will): crime is a conscious choice often w/ a political motive, e.g. to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Criminals are deliberately struggling to change society.
                                          2. A FULL SOCIAL THEORY OF DEVIANCE
                                            1. TAYLOR ET AL aim to create a 'fully social theory of deviance' - a comprehensive theory that would help to change society for the better. This theory has 2 main sources:
                                              1. TRADITIONAL MARXIST ideas about the unequal distribution of wealth & who has power to make & enforce the law.
                                                1. LABELLING THEORY'S ideas about the meaning of deviant act for the actor, societal reactions to it, & the effects of the deviant label on the individual.
                                              2. CRITICISMS OF NEO-MARXISM
                                                1. Criticised by LEFT REALISTS for romanticising working-class criminals as 'Robin Hoods' fighting capitalism.
                                                  1. Criticised by FEMINISTS for being 'genderblind'.
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