Marxism is a structural theory, as people's actions are shaped by society and in particular the economic system. It is a conflict view of society.
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Marxism is a structural theory, as people's actions are shaped by society and in particular the economic system. It is a conflict view of society. Marxists argue that the upper class control all of society including law and order. They therefore have control over judges, police and the government. This gives them the power to define what is right in society in the interest of themselves. Therefore there is no criminal justice system for the working class. Instead the working class believe that the system is fair due to the ideology put forward by the upper class. This is known as false class-consciousness. Marxists argue that the upper class control the definitions of deviance in four main strands. The first contribution is that laws benefit the upper class and not the population generally. This view is supported by Pearce who argues that the majority of laws in Britain and America, work in the favour of capitalism. e.g. the conservatives got rid of the super tax which the rich had to pay. Pearce argues that even the laws that appear to benefit the subject class in reality benefit the ruling class as well. Factory legislation protecting the health and safety of workers provides an example, because the system needs a healthy safe population of producers and consumers. Just as important as laws that are passed are laws that are not passed. William Chambliss (1976) supports this argument, who suggests that much of what takes place in the creation of laws is non-decision making.
By providing a few laws that are of use to everybody, the real nature od the legal system is hidden. This maintains the myth that laws applies equally to the rich and poor and that the state is a neutral body guarding the welfare of society as a whole. Therefore this view makes Marxism very difficult to criticise as some upper class deviants do get convicted. The only criticism that can be made is the fact that they often do receive leaner sentences. For example Laud archer tends to lead a life of 'luxury' in prison, while Laud Guinness was let out of prison early as it didn't suit his 'lifestyle'. Another view by Marxists in the explanation of crime is that crime is inevitable in a capitalist society as capitalism encourages greed. Marxists argue that the capitalist system generates crime for the following reasons: * Capitalism is based on the private ownership of property. Personal gain rather than collective is encouraged. * Capitalism is a competitive system. Mutual aid and co-operation for the betterment of all are discouraged in favour of individual achievement of the expense of others. Competition breeds aggression, hostility and particularly for the losers frustration. * Economic self interest rather than public duty motivates behaviour * The capitalist mode of production emphasizes the maximization of profits and the accumulation of wealth. These views are supported by William Chambliss. Who argues that greed, self- interest and hostility generated by the capitalist system motivate many crimes at all levels within society.
Therefore they turn to youth culture as a way of coping with their problems caused by capitalism and resisting capitalism Phil Cohen illustrates this approach in his study of East London youth culture in the 1970s. He argues that the form the youth culture takes is related to the changing social and economic structure of east London. There was a distinct loss of community and close-knit way of life caused by re-development. A t the same time standards of living were increasing in the wider community. Cohen argues the forms of youth culture adopted in East London (which were shown in the terms of dress, music, haircuts and fashion) made clear statements about the attitudes of youth towards police and showed disdain for the values of wider society. However criticisms of this theory was made by S.Cohen. He pointed out that these writers were simply biased in their analysis. They wanted to prove that working class youth cultures were an attack on capitalism, and therefore made sure that they fixed the evidence to find this. He pointed, for example, that there were many different ways to interpret the sub-cultural style of the groups, and that the interpretation that the Marxist writers had imposed was just one of many possibilities. Postmodernist Redhead(1991)also argued that his study of the rave subculture associated with ecstasy showed that clothes language and music had nothing to do with the meaning of the sub-cultures. Evaluate the contribution of Marxist explanations to the study of crime Page 1 of 4
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