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Assess the usefulness of realist explanations of crime and deviance

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Assess the usefulness of realist explanations of crime and deviance Within sociology, there have been many different theories designed to help explain why crime and deviance takes place. This essay will be focusing on the realist perspective. The realist perspective can be broken down in to two categories, right realism and left realism. Right realism comes from a political functionalist point of view; where as left realism comes from a neo-Marxist point of view. The main aim of this essay is to asses the usefulness of realist explanations of crime and deviance. To do this it will be looking at the good and bad point of both ends of the spectrum, followed by a final conclusion. The realist approach can be seen as a reaction to both the labelling theory and radical criminology. Right realism was the first type of realism to come about and takes a more realistic look at crime and deviance. Right realists believe that there are many causes of crime and deviance. They believe that in order to cut down crime and deviance they need to enforce a zero tolerance policy, which they believe will make everything safer for people on the streets and in their homes They also question the view that poverty and unemployment are responsible for the rising rate of crime and deviance and turn more to a cultural explanation. ...read more.


Wilson and Kelling argue that crime and social disorder go hand in hand. One of the good points of right realism is that it sees the rising crime rates as a real indicator of a real social problem which must be solved using practical methods. However, part of the crime shown in official statistics may be because of changes in the way crime is recorded and reported. Another good point is that a study of 196 neighbourhoods in Chicago found that economic disadvantage underpinned both growing disorder and crime which point to the importance of relative deprivation in creating crime. A disadvantage of this theory is that they assume that young males from inner city areas are responsible for most crime which can be argued as not being entirely true because of white collar crimes. They believe that official statistics provide a valid view of the typical offender. Another disadvantage is that they believe that keeping criminals off the street and in prison for longer reduces the crime rate. However Walkate argued that this process is expensive and that there is no proven evidence that it actually works. Left realism was developed in the late 1980s as a reaction to both right realism and radical criminology and was lead by Jock young. ...read more.


Left realists believe that that all different agencies should work together. This is known as a multi agency intervention. They say that the government should allow people to have a say in how things should be done within the community. The advantages of left realism are that they attempt to take crime seriously, they use a comprehensive approach which looks at both the criminals as well as the victims and they also have formal and informal methods of social control. One of the main disadvantages of left realism is that they ignore white collar crime, which may be more harmful, and only focus on lower working class offenders and victims. Another disadvantage is that they over predict crime because the view that relative deprivation, individualism and economic inequality generates crime fits most people meaning that there should be more crime. Left realists rely too much on victim surveys which have their limitations as not all types of crime are listed and not all crimes committed are reported. In conclusion both left and right realism are good at explaining crime and deviance as they both take on different approaches to look at the subject. Although both are weak theories on their own, if they are used together or are merged, they can be used to give a fuller view on the causes of crime and deviance ?? ?? ?? ?? Lola Ake Sociology ...read more.

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