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Assess the value of the right realist approach to crime and deviance

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Introduction

Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the value of the right realist approach to crime and deviance (21 marks) Right realism sees crime, especially street crime, as a real and growing problem that destroys communities, undermines social cohesion and threatens society's work ethic. It has been one of the most influential neo-conservative views, especially in the US, and one of the key right realists is James Q. Wilson, an advisor to President Reagan in the 1980s. It can be argued that these views have also influenced British governments throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and possibly even today. It has also provided justification for widely adopted policies such as 'zero tolerance' policing. Right realists argue that it is pointless to try and eliminate the mythical 'root causes' of crime, such as poverty and educational underachievement. Instead, they believe focus should be on searching for practical crime control measures. This is achieved through taking a tough stance towards offenders and through control and punishment, rather than rehabilitating offenders or tackling underlying causes of crime. Right realists criticise other theories of crime for failing to offer any practical solutions to stop the rising crime rate. ...read more.

Middle

For right realists, the best agency of socialisation is the nuclear family. The right realist Charles Murray (1990) argues that the crime rate is increasing because of a growing underclass who fail to socialise their children properly. According to Murray this underclass is growing in both the US and UK as a result of welfare dependency. This has led to a decline of marriage and increase in lone parent families, as women can survive off benefits. However, Murray says lone mothers are inadequate socialisation agents, especially for boys (who hold biggest proportion of crime). Boys lack paternal discipline and appropriate male role models. As a result, young males turn to others in the same position for help and gain status through crime. However, this is rejected by Jane Mooney (1998) who claims 'there is not a single substantial scrap of evidence' that there is a link between single parenthood and crime. As the Item says, right realists advocate increasing the costs of crime and reducing the benefits. In other words they aim to make crime seem less attractive and their main focus is on control, containment and punishment for offenders. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the Marxist thinking on crime, which sees powerless groups such as the working class and ethnic minorities as criminalised, while society tends to ignore the crimes of the powerful. In conclusion, right realism is a valuable theory of crime and deviance. It offers a more practical approach to tackling crime than its mainly theoretical predecessors such as Marxism or labelling theory. It has shown that taking crime seriously is an important issue in reducing and preventing it, rather than just attempting to identify the underlying causes or wider structural explanations. However, as with many Neo-conservative approaches, too much focus is placed on 'controlling' the working class rather than trying to help them. While at the same time, doing little to target white collar crimes of the middle class. The ultimate test of a theory is its success in real life application. This has been the case for right realist theories since the 1980s and there is still much debate surrounding crime rates that have arguably been made worse, so it remains undecided whether right realism is the best way to approach crime and deviance in society. ...read more.

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