• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess Marxist theories of crime and deviance.

Extracts from this document...


Sociology Chad Walker Assess Marxist theories of crime and deviance. Marxists believe that the law is part of the superstructure that is used to socialise people, which benefits capitalists. They argue that the law is only enforced on the working class and that the middle class are exempt from it as agents of social control are biased against the working class. They believe that official statistics are invalid and say that capitalists are the real criminals but explain working class crime as being due to capitalist culture being criminogenic. However, Marxists have been criticised by Neo-Marxists as well as Left Realists. Marxists believe that laws benefit capitalists and are critical of Right Wing theories such as Functionalism, the New Right and Right-Realists as they believe that the law reflects the collective conscience. Capitalists will define behaviours or activities as illegal if it affects them making money or will make things illegal if they can profit from it (such as fines for speeding). Chambliss supports this theory by suggesting that there are so many laws protecting private property because capitalists are the ones that own the private property. Snider also supports this theory as he believes that the government is reluctant to pass laws that threaten capitalists profits. ...read more.


Therefore, even laws that appear to benefit people actually benefits capitalists. Chambliss argues that in order to see that capitalists control the law we need to look at decision making and non decision making. This refers to what behaviour is defined or not defined as criminal. It is evident that certain behaviours are not criminalised as they maintain capitalists profit and power. Cigarettes are not criminalised as the government can tax them thus making money from them even though they kill thousands every year. Chambliss also gives the example of a movie magnate who spends thousands of dollars on his daughters 18th birthday while people down the street are dying from poverty. People accept this type of behaviour because they have been socialised to believe that they have earned it due to living in a meritocratic society. Right Wing theories see the police as being fair and just. Marxists on the other hand are critical of this as they believe that agents of social control are biased against the working class. Chambliss' studied crime in Seattle. Syndicates owned brothels and casinos, which the working class made complaints about to the police. ...read more.


Neo-Marxism combines traditional Marxism with Interactionism and developed a 'fully social theory of crime and deviance' to explain crime. To explain crime you must look at the wider and immediate origins of the deviant act, the act itself, immediate and wider origins of societal reaction and the effects of labelling. Hall's 'policing the crisis' can be applied to Taylor, Walton and Young's fully social theory. The act itself was mugging; to understand this the wider and immediate origins of the crime were examined (capitalism suffering from a recession, high unemployment and crisis of hegemony); the wider and immediate origins of societal reaction were a moral panic and racist society. Hall argues that Black people were used as a scape-goat by capitalists so that they were blamed for social problems and cause class fragmentation. In terms of the effects of labelling, Hall's study showed how the label of being a criminal on Black people then led to a self fulfilling prophecy as a reaction to her behaviour of the police. In conclusion, Marxists believe that the law benefits the capitalists, is only enforced on the working class and the middle class are exempt from it, agents of social control are biased, official statistics are invalid, capitalists are the real criminals but has been criticised by Neo-Marxists for being deterministic, ignoring intra-class crime and the seriousness of working class crime. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    Types of deviance are linked to one's place in the social structure; thus, a poor person blocked from economic opportunities may use armed robbery to achieve economic goals, whereas a stockbroker may use insider trading to achieve the same. Functionalists acknowledge that people choose whether to behave in a deviant

  2. describe four studies relating to crime and deviance - each from a different perspective. ...

    This is viewed as a product of societal reaction to the individuals' behaviour - society only sees the label and disregards other aspects of that person. The individual may start to view themselves as others do and act accordingly. This is known as self-fulfilling prophecy. (Sociology in Focus, page 476)

  1. Outline and Assess Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance

    alcohol; or denial of injury- victim wasn't hurt, often used when justifying stealing from a company rather than individual. Matza is therefore arguing that the difference between a persistent offender and a law-abiding citizen is simply the frequency and environment in which our subterranean values appear to the public.

  2. Outline and assess Marxist explanations of crime and deviance.

    However the New Right do believe the main causes of crime are poor upbringing, biological or genetical defects and that a number of illegal acts are not really harmful but are illegal because bureaucrats want to interfere in peoples lives.

  1. Critically Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Traditional Marxist Perspectives On Crime.

    Durkheim had a belief in crime and deviance not Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY Page 2 just being the makeup of a few 'sick' individuals but is part of society and performs an important function. But there are criticisms in his theories and he doesn't completely explain why some

  2. The Strengths and Limitations of Left Realism and Right Realism Theories in Explaining Crime ...

    Wilson and Kelling (1982) developed what has become known as the 'Broken Window' thesis. This suggests that unless deviant and criminal behaviour be kept to a minimal then there will be a gradual deterioration of neighbourhoods, with growing anti-social behaviour like noise, litter, graffiti and vandalism and growing crime rates as a sense of 'anything goes' attitude develops.

  1. Assess the contribution of Marxist theories to an understanding of the relationship between deviance ...

    The Neo-Marxist S. Hall illustrates the labelling theory, an interactionalist idea, which is used within the perspective. Hall looks at mugging, which he sees as a 'moral panic', the media drew attention to this 'crime', which was then stressed by politicians, judges and the police.

  2. Evaluate Functionalist Theories of Crime and Deviance

    However, this view of crime and deviance would be criticized by interactionists as being too deterministic- and instead point at the role of human interaction in determining human behaviour including deviant or criminal behaviour. New Left Realists would claim that Parson's theories only investigate the results of poverty and deprivation

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work