assess the usefulness of Marxist approach to an understanding of crime and deviance’

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‘Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of Marxist approach to an understanding of crime and deviance’ (21 marks)

There are numerous Marxist theories that help us to understand crime and deviance in different ways, however they are all based around the same ideas. They believe capitalism causes crime in three different ways including, selective law enforcement, criminogenic capitalism and ideological nature of the law. Traditional Marxists believe that crime is inevitable in all societies because capitalism is criminogenic suggesting that it is societies very nature that causes crime. According to traditional Marxists society causes capitalism in different ways. One of which is due to poverty. The lack of social mobility means that people find it difficult to move up the social classes. And therefore those in poverty that cannot afford necessities such as food result in utilitarian crimes (crimes with a purpose) for example theft In order to survive. Another way that capitalism causes crime is due to capitalism advertising products encouraging the false need and desire for consumer goods. A false need makes an individual believe that they need a product when in reality they don’t, for example cars, phones etc. They can achieve this through the media for example TV advertisements and billboards, because people believe this is what they need if they cannot afford it legitimately then they may turn to crime. Thirdly capitalism can cause crime through alienation (individuals feeling isolated from the rest of society) as a lack of control of their lives may lead to crimes of violence and other non utilitarian crimes without a purpose for example domestic violence etc. This could occur whereby a partner feels frustrated with his social position and therefore takes it out on members of the family etc. Finally capitalism encourages a dog-eat-dog world therefore regardless of social class people always want more. This leads to crimes from all different classes. The wealthy commit crimes such as fraud and tax invasion, statistics just don’t show this as much. David Gordon 1976 explained this as he said crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and is found in all social classes, even though statistics make it look as though it is concentrated amongst the working class. Here David Gordon is explaining that crime is just a response to the way society is run, that it is the capitalist structure of society that creates these crimes, and that even though statistics represent more working class as the criminals, in reality all classes are guilty of crime. Traditional Marxists also proposed the theory that law making and law enforcement can have an effect on crime in society as law making and enforcement serves the interests of the capitalist class. The ruling class have the power to change laws, prevent laws and enforce laws. An example of when we have seen how quickly laws can be enforced by the ruling class was during the summer riots in 2011 when laws were quickly passed through parliament to give police powers to force individuals to remove headwear. This shows that it is the ruling class that have power and therefore laws are based on the ruling class views not considering the working class opinions. As well as this Marxists also argue that certain types of crime are likely to be dealt with more rigorously than others. For example street crimes such as assault and theft are more likely to be pursued by the police than white collar crimes such as fraud. The English government have only made some attempts to deal with white collar crimes however the USA targets the offence more seriously. As well as this certain groups are more likely to be on the receiving end of law enforcement. For example in inner city areas the police patrol more therefore working class are more likely to get caught because working class are more likely to live in the city. David Gordon argues that the...
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