This essay will evaluate the Marxist theory that the ruling class in society decides the law and enforces it, to reflect their own interests.
Marxism is a political and social system based on the ideas of Karl Marx (1818-83). Marxist criminology theories began in the 1970’s. According to Marxists, society is controlled by the ruling capitalist class. They believe that in a capitalist society, a small group of wealthy people (the bourgeoisie), own the means of production, such as; factories, businesses, land, etc and that they exploit the working class people (the proletariat), so that they can enjoy a huge profit and personal gain, either legally or illegally. Marxists believe that the ruling class therefore decide the law help their own personal interests and needs. Reflecting this Marxist theory, P. Self states that “crime is an inevitable feature of a capitalist economy which promotes self interest and greed”. So Marxists argue that working-class people are more likely to break the law because of exploitation and poverty. Crimes of the rich and powerful bourgeoisie can frequently go undetected because of the state and large businesses help each other. Individuals may also be labelled as ‘deviant’, simply because they might be involved in political acts that challenge the social order. Marxists believe that laws cannot be ‘neutral ‘, because they are made by the powerful to maintain their own privileged positions.
Marxists therefore argue that capitalism is crimogenic – it is the single over-riding cause of all crime and deviancy in society due to poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity. A poor underclass is formed who have to rely on crime to exist. However they also say the ruling classes themselves are deviant, by committing crimes that protect their power and wealth. Capitalist led governments turn a blind eye to this. William Chambliss’ study in 1976 illustrated this when he described organised crime in Washington,... [continues]
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