An essay plan on the Marxist Theory of Crime and Deviance – starting with an introduction outlining the Marxist conception of social class and then covering 4-5 key points such as the costs of corporate crime, selective law enforcement and crimogenic capitalism, with some overall evaluations and a conclusion to round off.
- The link above takes you to my detailed class notes on Marxism, this post is a briefer, revision version.
- For more essay plans, please see my main page: exams, short answer questions essays, which has links to dozens of posts on exam advice and model answers.
Brief intro outlining key ideas of Marxist Theory (links to Theory and Methods):
- Conflict Perspective
- Class Structure (Bourgeoisie/ Proletariat)
- Capitalism/ Economic Power = other forms of power (Private Property)
- Exploitation/ extraction
- False consciousness/ ideological control
- Political Perspective supports working class struggle and revolution
Point One – The law is made by the elite and supports their interests
- William Chambliss said this
- Against the consensus view of the law
- Most of the law is protection of Private Property
- The whole history of Colonialism supports
Point Two – All classes commit crime, the crimes of the elite are more harmful and they are more likely to get away with it
- Laureen Snider said this
- High profile case studies support this – Bernie Madhoff/ Bhopal
- Statistically supported by Tombs and Whyte
Point Three – Selective Law Enforcement and Ideological Functions
- Working class crime more likely to be punished and criminals jailed
- NOT interactionism, although their work supports this
- 3* ideological functions – e.g. neutralisation of opposition
Point Four – Crimogenic Capitalism
- Crime is a natural outgrowth of Capitalism
- David Gordon ‘Dog Eat Dog society’
- Capitalism breeds desire, selfishness, materialism
Bonus Point Five – Add in Neo-Marxism – The Fully Social Theory of Deviance
- Taylor, Walton and Young – Moral Panics against WC crime = a tool of social control
- Stuart Hall – Policing the Crisis – good illustration of the above
- See criminals as a ‘revolutionary vanguard’
Best Overall Evaluations
- + Better than Consensus Theory – doesn’t ignore power and inequality
- + The law does benefit the rich more because the poor have no significant property
- + Highlights the cost of Corporate Crime and the injustice (links to Victimology)
- + On the side of the many victims of Elite Crime
- – Economically Deterministic – Evidence that crime exists in non-capitalist societies and crime is going down in the UK
- – Postmodernism – Doesn’t explain recent changes in crime – causes are more complex
- – Realisms – Not pragmatic – offers not immedate ways of controlling crime
- – Realisms – out of touch with working class victims of crime
Conclusion – How Useful is this theory?
- + Useful if you’re a victim of elite crime and think long term political change is required to end this problem.
- – Not useful if you’re a victim of ‘ordinary working class crime’ and want immediate solutions to your problems.
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