Capitalism's Effect on Deviant Behavior

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So far we have discussed many theories that try to help us understand and explain why crime occurs. In their article, Lynch and Groves advocate the approach known as radical criminology. Radical criminologists believe crime is linked to a society’s political and economic conditions especially in capitalist cultures like the United States (p. 372). Deriving their position from Marx, radicals believe that four conditions relate to occurrence of crime: a)capitalism is based on inequalities between those who own and those who work b)because of the inequality between labor and capital, society becomes stratified into social classes characterized by differences in wealth, status, power, and authority c)because of these differences, persons in different social classes have very different opportunities in terms of life chances and choices d)among these opportunities are the chances of becoming criminal (p. 373)

Ultimately, radicals think that social stratification accounts for the unequal distribution of chances and opportunities available to different persons at different levels in a class structure (p. 373). Radicals stress the causal association between political economy, inequality, and crime in three areas: the working world, how workplace conditions affect familial life, and women and crime. For the purposes of this paper, I will mainly focus on the economic equality in the working world, including the situation of being unemployed.

Radical criminologists confirm the contributory impact of economic factors on social life through the fact that class position affects life chances, political power, and socialization relationships. The fact that the top 1 percent of people in the U.S. own 42 percent of the wealth proves that income is unequally distributed across social classes (p. 374). In the United States, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer—with the rich receiving the better opportunities in life while the poor must resort to criminal...
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