Emeline Fotofili (300273650) (Bradley & Walters, 2011) (Siegal, 2010) (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2005) Criminology 211 Essay
This essay topic consists of two main components. The first requires you to demonstrate your knowledge of and a familiarity with the theory/perspective and the second requires you to demonstrate an understanding of its application (in either policy or practice) and the impact of its application. i) Briefly identify the main features and concepts of radical criminology. ii) Critically discuss the ways in which the various radical perspectives challenge existing ideas about crime and justice.
Radical criminology made its appearance on the criminological and sociological field in the 1960s and early 1970s on a scene of social and political development and sometimes, unrest. The theory, channeled through work by British criminologists Paul Taylor, Ian Walton and Jock Young, stood as questioning already established notions of crime and justice from the very beginning, with its unfamiliar foundations on a variant of Marxism known as Instrumental Marxism. The sharp theories of this school disfigured the previous ideas of crime and the justice system of given societies, held by the followers of Classicism, Individual Positivism and Sociological Positivism, and highlighted an alternative way of studying social phenomena such as criminal behaviour and activities. This paper will seek to distinguish the main points of radical criminology and also illustrate the areas of previous schools that radical perspectives had a differing opinion on.
Radical criminology (sometimes known as Critical criminology) can be seen as the hypernym for a series of criminological approaches mainly listed as labeling theory, conflict theory, feminist theory, new critical theory and radical theories from a Marxist perspective (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1973). One of these perspectives, known as Instrumental Marxism, provides the basis for which radical criminologists point to social institutions as being either directly or indirectly linked to the needs and motives of a Capitalist “ruling class”. This in turn maintains a type of social hierarchy that will economically benefit the “ruling class” and exploit the working class citizens through various “public order” offences (Siegal, 2010). The most apparent example of this would be the social framework of which a society’s laws are made in. Laws are of course not a neutral demonstration of the relationships that exist between the different social classes, and radical criminology theorists look to this as the controlling mechanism which the privileged and the elite few use against the more underprivileged class in a capitalist society. It is then from this that Instrumental Marxists and radical criminologists believe crime is generated because laws are enforced selectively, to favour those in power. Because of this view, this theory is not supported by government policies and agencies.
Although radical criminologists took up this type of Marxism, they also included other perspectives such as interactionism and focused on the process by which the government or ruling state labels certain activities as criminal offences (Hogg & Carrington, 2013). Radical perspectives also support the notion of primary deviance where the deviant is seen as ‘having a level of choice’ therefore downplaying ideas that offenders were ‘passive victims of the labeling process’ (Hogg & Carrington, 2013). However when discussing secondary deviance, theorists state society’s reaction to crime, is determined by the ability of those in power to condemn various acts as being deviant (Bradley & Walters, 2011). Because this system of ideas focuses solely on one conflict in a given society, class inequality of capitalism, it is a conflict worldview rather than a consensus worldview, which is why it features less in mainstream criminology compared to other...
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