Examine some of the ways in which Marxists explain crime
Marxist theories of crime, including the more recent neo-Marxist theories, are conflict approaches. They see society based on conflict between social classes, and social inequality caused by capitalism as the driving force behind crime. One way that Marxists explain crime is through the law. Marxists argue that the law functions to reinforce the ideology of society – the power of the ruling class over the working class. Many laws can be seen to function for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, such as property laws. Chambliss claimed that property laws were very important during capitalism, and said ‘the heart of the capitalist economic system is the protection of private property which is by definition the cornerstone upon which capitalist economies function. It is not surprising, then to find that criminal laws reflect this basic concern.’ Therefore, crime can be seen to occur within the working class because laws against certain behaviours have been created, and white-collar crimes often committed by the ruling class are overlooked as they do not break any laws imposed by the ruling class. However, Marxists fail to recognise that the law does not simply protect ruling-class interests - there is a wide range of laws that are in everyone’s interests, such as those on health and safety, consumer protection, traffic laws and those against household and vehicle theft and violence of all kinds. The police try to protect the public from victimization, and are not simply ruling-class agents who repress the working class. Marxists also argue that crime takes place in all classes, but it is mainly the working class who are convicted for their crimes. This is because the police have selective enforcement. Snider argues that there are many white collar and corporate crimes, and argues that these often are more damaging and cost more money and lives than street crimes such as burglary, robbery and murder. Despite the...
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