The Marxist Explanation of Crime and Deviance

Topics: Marxism, Social class, Working class Pages: 2 (905 words) Published: November 3, 2014

Outline and assess Marxist theories of crime and deviance. (50 marks) Marxists argue that the nature and organisation of capitalism, creates the potential for criminal behaviour. Gordon states that capitalism is characterised by class inequalities in the distribution of, for example, wealth and income, poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Gordon argues that the ideology of capitalism encourages criminal behaviour in all social classes. The term ‘crime’ means behaviour that breaks the law. For example, someone who commits a crime such as murder or rape is considered a criminal. And the term ‘deviance’ refers to behaviour that the majority see as different from the accepted norms of society. For example, wearing a bikini is suitable at the beach but, it would not be appropriate to wear it at work. Marxists state that the laws are made to benefit the ruling class. For example, social security fraud, largely committed by the poor, unavoidably attracts prosecution and often prison, yet tax fraudsters who are usually wealthy and powerful individuals rather than ordinary taxpayers, rarely get taken to court. Croall defines white-collar crime as crime committed in the course of legitimate employment, which involves the abuse of an occupational role. Croall suggests that this kind of crime is mainly committed by the ruling class who are rich and have an elite socio-economic status. Reiman argues that the more likely a crime is to be committed by upper-class people, the less likely it is to be treated as a criminal offence. Middle class crime is under-policed, under-punished and underestimated. Gordon argues that crime is a logical response to economic deprivation. Marxists argue, firstly that certain types of crime are likely to be dealt with more rigorously than others. For example, in Reiman’s book, he states that ‘street crimes’ such as assault and theft are for more likely to be pursued by the police than ‘white-collar crime’ such as fraud or ‘insider trading’ in...
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